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Make it in Great Britain – questions for Vince Cable

Yesterday I was invited to the launch of the government’s Make it in Great Britain campaign, which I featured on this site a couple of weeks ago.

Make it in Great Britain launch with Vince Cable

Make it in Great Britain launch with Vince Cable

Whilst I didn’t get a lot of time to grill business secretary Vince Cable with all my questions about what the government is doing to address the skills shortage in the clothing and textiles industry, I did find out more about this new government campaign that has a name distinctly similar to this very site.

One interesting aspect of the government’s 12 month campaign to raise awareness of British manufacturing will be a competition that will be run to find the ‘top 30 under 30’ rising stars of manufacturing. The competition will be open to designers and manufacturers to find the best pre-market products that Britain can produce. Whilst the launch yesterday was very heavily engineering focused, it would be great to see the clothing and textile industry also represented in this competition.

One question I did get to ask the business secretary was ‘why, if the government think the solution is to encourage young people that manufacturing is a worthwhile and enjoyable career, do they not teach children in primary schools to make anything any more? ¬†Sewing was one of the essential skills that I learnt at school as a kid and I believe that this enjoyment of learning to make my own clothes led me to choose working in fashion as my career.
Vince Cable’s answer to this was that children do still make things… out of Lego!

Other questions that I shall hope to find answers to as the campaign progresses are:-

  • ¬†Will there been any funding available to small businesses that are manufacturing their products in the UK?
  • Will there be a centralised database of UK manufacturing companies, to make it easier for designers to find producers for their products?
  • After the 12 months of the Make it in Great Britain campaign is up, how will the government maintain the public’s interest in British manufacturing?
If you have any questions that you would like to raise about the Make it in Great Britain campaign or British manufacturing please write a comment below.



  1. Elizabeth on November 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Great that you were asked along – and that you got at least one question through – although I suspect that was not the answer you were hoping for!! I totally agree with you that there is a massive bias in this initiative towards engineering – what about all the other fantastic British designers/makers out there across many sectors – we have a wealth of talent that we should be supporting – let’s get them involved as well!

  2. Will there be a centralised database of UK manufacturing companies, to make it easier for designers to find producers for their products?

    I suggested the same thing on the Spending Challenge consultation. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs must have a way of searching for all the people paying VAT for a cut-make-and-trim factory for example. Or even all the people paying income tax. These workshops come and go all the time so a recent list would be great.

    I have tried Companies House for shoe factories who turned me down because they want to charge thousands, but someone else has got around the same problem. CDRex.com publish Companies House data by type of business for free.
    These are 1930 (Manufacture of Footwear) on their accounts for example.

    Another thing that a designer can try is to lobby London College of Fashion and their funders to open up their library to the fashion trade. At the moment you have to write-in and get special permission just to read the trade directories on their shelves, along with British Standards, body shape data, and back numbers of Satra Bulletin about how to make shoes. Fashion students aren’t very interested – the books are wasted on them!

    Good luck with your lobbying

    • Kate Hills on January 19, 2012 at 12:08 am

      Hi John

      Great comments, and I completely agree with what you have said about the LCF library.
      As a part-time student at MMU I am entitled to access to the LCF library but they made the process of registering so painful and convoluted that I gave up in the end! Maybe I should persevere to try and get my hands on those trade directories.

      • The shoe trades directory fizzled-out in the 1990s with odd attempts to revive. There is still a textiles directory published but I’m less sure what I’m looking at when I read it and so whether it is worth a journey. There are lists of company names under headings like “belt buckles” which I tried ringing, but the detail that tells you whether it is worth the call and them whether it is worth being in the directory wasn’t there. It might be good on some other subject and I’m afraid I can’t even remember the name of it. I got into LCF library by showing proof of being on a short course, without the date.

        Maybe someone else can tell us what the best trade directories are!

  3. Matt Brian on May 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    A centralised database of UK Manufacturers would be ideal for networking within business to business and keeping the British links stronger!
    Need to look at what is going on at the time – eg Olympics and how we can enforce the campaign alongside the event.
    Good on you Kate!

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