Is the Government supporting UK manufacturing?

What does the Government’s latest announcement of support for UK Manufacturing mean?

Will the launch of Reshore UK help small businesses support British manufacturing?

Is the Government supporting UK manufacturing?

Is the Government supporting UK manufacturing?

Today we welcomed the news that the UK Government has launched a new initiative named Reshore UK that aims to help companies that want to bring their production back to the UK. According to the press release on the website, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has joined forces with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) to offer a ‘1-stop-shop’ to those companies wishing to reshore their manufacturing. In particular it mentions textiles, software production and call centre work, as areas that it would be looking to support.

The press release goes on to say that Reshore UK will ‘provide a matching and location service, access to advice and support and a named individual to help each company’. Accroding to the report, £70m has been allocated to recruiting more trade advisors over the next 2 years (that’s a lot of advisors!), but there is no mention yet of any funding being available directly to these reshoring firms that the initiative will support.

So what does this announcement really mean for small businesses? What is the ‘matching service’ that Reshore UK will provide? And what support will be offered to retrain the staff that will be needed to fill these new manufacturing jobs?  That, unfortunately, is unclear at this stage.

A few phonecalls to my contacts at MAS revealed that none of them were actually sure as to how this new matchmaking service would work either. Although one thing that does seem to be clear is that with UKTI involved the focus will be on manufacturing products with a strong export potential, especially as the demand for British-made products by high-growth markets such as China, India and Brazil is mentioned in the press release.

David Cameron is also quoted in the announcement as saying “this new service will offer dedicated support for businesses that want to capitalise on the opportunities of reshoring, creating new jobs and ensuring that hard-working people can reap the benefits of globalisation.” So it is at least nice to know that he thinks that we all work hard – but how have we reaped the benefits of globalisation over the last couple of decades when all our manufacturing jobs went overseas in the first place? Hmm, nice one David.

So to answer the question that I started this article with of  “what does the launch of Reshore UK mean to small businesses and those wanting to support British manufacturing?” it is very difficult to say at this stage. We will have to watch this space to find out how Reshore UK unfolds.



7 Responses

  1. This is positive news for the UK but we must capitalise on it, now! Not surprisingly the average Chinese worker is starting to lust after a more lavish lifestyle that sees them demanding more wages. A point is now visible whereby it is not always in our interests to import foreign made goods as they are naturally becoming more expensive – not to mention all the shipping costs.. On these shores however we must look at why manufacturing took such a nose dive in the 70’s causing us to lose the market. At some fault was our housing market which takes some of the blame and continues to spiral out of control with very little real affordable housing. Affordable – to who? what a stupid term. We can only get the housing market into check if we can reduce basic rent for those just wishing to live. It is simply ridiculous that it is often cheaper to buy rather than rent – houses simply are not worth that much. You would never buy any other product with such extortionate pay back terms. British made goods are bound to be a little more expensive in the short term so we have to get more money into the consumer’s pocket. Sort the housing market first and we might stand a chance.

  2. The same department does two opposite things.

    Firstly it retains vital data that could help UK trade directories be written – that information about who makes what that comes to them as part of tax returns. This was confirmed here:
    The ministry needs political help to get changes in regulations. Their reply states “HMRC has a duty of confidentiality in section 18(1) Commissioners for Revenue and Customs 2005 (CRCA) which says we may not disclose information held for a function of HMRC; the information is held for our function to assess direct taxes. Where information covered by section 18(1) relates to an identifiable person, which includes companies, section 23(1) CRCA applies section 44(1)(a) FOIA.”

    Secondly the ministry pays for these 70 jobs at the Manufacturing Advisory Service, aimed at helping buyers find out who makes what in the absence of good trade directories.

    I’ve had a go at writing via my MP to get a change in the law, but I think these letters are answered with about 30 second’s thought by a civil servant new to the subject and then signed with a ministers’ squiggle in reply. Maybe it’s time to write again, in some way that can be understood in 30 seconds.

  3. Adam says:

    I agree with Rich, a step in the right direction but we need to follow through on this now.

  4. I read the first half of Evan Davis’ book “Made in Britain: How the Nation Earns its Living” before getting annoyed with it and leaving it under the bed. He argued that countries where it’s normal to save a lot for the future, and save in industry, tend to have good machines and factories. Countries like the UK which are full of consumerism and debt tend to have less machines and factories; they have to rely on service industries.

    I agree with Rich too: the little that people in the UK do save has been channelled by the Building Societies Act (and an inefficient City of London) into housing (and anonymous pension funds). The Planning Act follows-along behind, making it hard to build a factory in a field even if you can afford to.

    As for nose dives in the 70s, manufacturing shrank 25% in the first government term after 1979. Nobody has ever apologised for the crazy economic policies of the time, and the next party in power followed them until 2009! The policy was to pay a fraction too much for government borrowing, coaxing overseas investers to buy government debt, and so raise the value of pound against other currencies. This made imports cheaper and so reduced inflation and made you look like a very prudent chancellor or bank of england boss or whatever, if that was your job, or unemployed if not.

    I don’t know what the second half of “Made in Britain” says, much as I like the author. Maybe someone else got to the end?

  5. PS I was a bit rude writing “nobody has apologised”.

    Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet colleagues have apologised a bit, on a TV collection of them being interviewed about her policies mixed with her interviews about her colleagues. I think Francis Pym said something like “we should have gone to the public and said: there’s a recession, we can’t afford to risk this policy, and James Prior: “when you loose 25% of your manufacturing, it’s very hard to get it back”. I think about half of them had regrets.

  6. I listened to the Prime Minister’s reasons he thought ‘re-shoring’ would increase, and none of them represented any significant or qualitative change. One important change would be innovation in industry that lead to more complex products that could only be created by a more skilled British workforce–if we still have greater skills.

  7. Tom says:

    Has much unfolded about Reshore UK yet? I’m following this with interest. Our company (Headforwards) is based in Cornwall and provides software development outsourcing services. I’d love to find out more about the ‘matching and location service’.

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