Will the launch of Reshore UK help small businesses support British 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 Gov.uk 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.