We need a long-term economic plan, say manufacturers

MAKE UK manufacturing report

Britain’s manufacturers are calling on the Government to bring forward a clear, long-term economic action plan which provides business and industry with a consistent strategy to help them through the crisis.

The call was made by the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK as it published its own three point action plan which contains proposals for the immediate lockdown period, an exit strategy and long term. While the announcement last week from the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme was welcome, Make UK believes its proposals will enable companies see a broader policy horizon and help place the UK on an equal footing with international competitors.

Make UK has also offered to lead the manufacturing sector working with Government as it did on the Ventilator Challenge, in building robust national capacity for mass regular testing of the UK population. This would effectively identify those areas which need additional measures to deal with Covid 19 outbreaks and avoid future waves of highly damaging National lockdowns.

Publishing its plan ‘Prepare, Implement, Lead’, Make UK backed its view that the crisis has many months to run into next year with data from a survey of almost two hundred companies showing over a third (36.8%) believe it will take longer than twelve months to return to normal trading whilst over a quarter (26.8%) believe it will take between six and twelve months.

Chief Executive at Make UK, Stephen Phipson, said: “Government has already done a huge amount to support business but as we move into a second lockdown manufacturers and wider industry needs a clear strategy that ensures we prepare, implement and lead from the start to prepare for the long-term.

“Businesses need as much certainty and stability as possible during these challenging times. Moreover they need consistency of support. The current piecemeal and ever-changing model of support is not giving firms sufficient time to plan and prepare. Consistent, longer-term support that mirrors our international competitors is now needed.”

As part of its action plan Make UK has called for the immediate establishment of an Industry Action Group which would feed weekly impact and intelligence data each week into COBRA on what level of support is needed to protect businesses, employees and communities. At the same time, Government must also work with key trading partners to ensure borders remain open for goods and services and key freight routes protected.

This must be followed by a clear exit strategy with collective agreement between industry, scientists and Government on when lockdown ends, including a fully functioning test trace and isolate system that removes the time delays that employers and their employees currently face.

Looking forward, as well as securing a good deal with the EU which avoids the disastrous prospect for industry of leaving without one, Government must set out a ‘ready to go’ strategy to fire up demand and help repair the economic damage.

The survey of 198 companies was carried out between 12 and 19 October.