UK Manufacturing Boosted
It has become a repeated cry over the last 30+ years to bemoan the decline of UK manufacturing and all parties have at various times announced plans to “get the UK making things again”. Whilst it is true that manufacturing has undergone a steady decline as a share of UK GDP it is not the case that we don’t make anything any more. Manufacting has continued to grow but at a slower rate than the rest of the economy. The UK has world beating industries in pharmaceuticals, electronics, aerospace, and defence, and now it seems in car manufacturing.
Over the last few months a succession of car makers have announced new investment in their UK plants. Jaguar, Nissan in Sunderland, and now GM Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, have annnounced hundreds of millions of Pounds of investment and expansion which will keep the UK at the forefront of making the latest models. Even more encouraging was the news that Ellesmere Port was chosen over a German plant because of the productivity and flexibility of the UK workforce.
Car manufacturing rose by 9.3% in April and 11.8% in the year to date. The latest investments will raise that further. With the investment comes jobs, both existing jobs guaranteed and new jobs created. It also in most cases boosts suppliers, some of whom will create new jobs as their order books expand. It was significant that this month for the first time since the 1970′s saw more UK made cars exported than foreign made imported, thus helping our balance of trade.
But it is not only the UK car industry which is seeing investment and expansion. Another industry which seemed in remorseless decline has recieved a shot in the arm. The UK steel industry is seeing new investment and new orders, leading to new jobs. Hundreds of millions of Pounds are being pumped into plants in Yorkshire and South Wales in areas which have seen industrial decline and high unemployment. Plants which have been closed are in some cases being reopened and former employees taken back.
This country may have just tipped into recession once again (although initial provision figures may be revised) but the manufacturing sector has being doing relatively well. Trades Unions have been tamed and the UK workforce is more flexible and productive. The government needs to combine sensible investment in infrastructure with cuts in red tape and business taxes to ensure that the economy revives and succeeds.