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The Industrial Strategy – what does it mean for manufacturing?

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper was released this week promising to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK.

The strategy, which can be read on the UK Government's website, is focused on improving productivity by strengthening its five pillars – ideas, people, infrastructure, places and the business environment. It has set out four Grand Challenges where Britain can take an international lead – artificial intelligence (AI) and big data; clean growth; the future of mobility; and meeting the needs of an ageing society.

The 254 page document sets out 15 key policies to be overseen by an independent Industrial Strategy Council.

Key policies for manufacturing

  1. A newly formed Office for AI will be established to work with an industry led AI Council. This Office will work with priority business sectors, including manufacturing to support rapid adoption of AI technologies.
  2. The strategy commits to greater private and public investment in research and development (R&D). The commitment is to reach 2.4% of GDP investment by 2027, which would increase investment by £80bn over the next decade.
  3. Increasing R&D tax credits to 12%, which was announced in the Budget earlier this month
  4. A review into increasing productivity for small and medium enterprises, to deliver support through the Growth Hubs. This support will include helping manufacturing businesses to navigate any challenges with supply chains after the UK leaves the EU single market.
  5. Further investment to overcome the skills shortage in STEM subjects with a reform of ‘technical education’ and investment into STEM based education including Maths and Digital skills.
  6. The strategy has also outlined a number of Sector Deals, creating partnerships between government and industry to boost productivity. These have been established to support life sciences, construction, artificial intelligence and the automotive sectors.
  7. A new Food and Drink Sector Council will be established for the UKs largest manufacturing sector, to work with industry leaders across the supply chain to support the sector following Brexit. The Council will be tasked with securing the UKs position as a global leaders and establish deals for manufacturers in this sector.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted to say there was "much to welcome" in the Industrial Strategy, but expressed concern around the "Department of Education's resistance to devolution of post-16 skills policy.".

Read more on the UK Government’s website: Industrial Strategy: the 5 foundations

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