James Robinson has been involved with engineering and manufacturing accounting and advisory clients since his first day of training and he is as passionate about them now as then heading up the firm’s specialist sector group. He specialises in owner-managed businesses of any size from start-ups to multi-million pound turnover clients.
Listen to some commentators and you’d think that we no longer make anything in the UK. But while the service sector may often grab the headlines, manufacturing wins hands down when it comes to the beating heart of the UK economy. Contrary to widespread perceptions, UK manufacturing is strong. In fact, we are currently the world’s eighth largest industrial nation by output.
Latest statistics from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, reveal that the sector: accounts for ten per cent of UK output; is responsible for 45 per cent of exports and employs 2.6 million people.
In the South West, manufacturing output adds up to £12.5 billion annually with 236,000 employed in the sector. Vital, then, that the Chancellor not just recognises engineering and manufacturing in this month’s Budget but takes concrete action to boost this key part of the UK economy.
Based on my contacts in the sector, here are some of the ‘wish-list’ items I would like to see in the Budget:
- An increased Annual Investment Allowance to stimulate capital investment. The current allowance – £200,000 – took effect from January 1, 2016
- Continued Research & Development (R&D) and Innovation tax reliefs According to EEF, the representative voice of British manufacturing, the manufacturing sector represents 68 per cent of business research and development
- Additional support with employment of apprentices, helping to fund the skills gap
- Brexit clarity. EU markets accounted for 48 per cent of manufactured exports in the second quarter of 2017. The engineering and manufacturing sector is particularly keen to get clarity on overseas workers, international supply chain and foreign currency exposure
- Help with international trade
- Grants and funding for investment in innovation
- Grants and additional tax incentives for alternative energy use and application in processes.
It’s fair to say that the Chancellor has a lot on his plate at the moment. The hope must be that such a vital sector receives more than just crumbs when he announces his Budget measures on November 22.