The logistics industry has reacted coolly to the government’s green paper on industrial strategy.
The announcement, by Prime Minister Theresa May, included backing for the development of an advanced manufacturing park next to the Nissan Sunderland plant to create 5,200 jobs as part of a £556m plus package of Northern Powerhouse.
The package came as the Cabinet Office wastes as much as £500m a year reviving projects that it has already established will not work, and after a decade of National Audit Office reports casting doubt on the effectiveness of regeneration spending.
Greater Manchester won the most generous allowance, receiving £130.1m. The next largest was Liverpool with £72m. Combined these are intended to influence a North West regional economy valued by the government at £157bn.
Stephen Cooper, head of industrial manufacturing at KPMG UK, said: “UK manufacturers will view Mrs May’s proposals as a long awaited and much needed step towards a consistent approach to help Britain’s economy adjust and succeed post-Brexit. It is encouraging to see the government welcoming industry views and expertise to drive this strategy forward.
“We work with organisations in the automotive and aerospace sectors, such as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and ADS, who recognise the importance of collaborating with government, and this approach has seen success. As the boundaries between traditional sectors start to blur due to advances in technology, it's essential for industry to embrace this open relationship with government.
“Investment in infrastructure, additional access to finance and increased support from government to address access to talent through STEM funding are all positives, however, how the skills challenge will be managed in the short-term remains to be seen. These are all key areas that need to focused on if Britain is to remain competitive and as a good location for foreign direct investment.
“Every manufacturer is thinking about digitalisation and advancing technologies, and the proposed R&D funding and support in science, research and innovation is critical for industry to operate effectively in the future. This announcement certainly takes us a step forward.”
REACTION: Cushman & Wakefield
Simon Lloyd, a partner in the National Logistics & Industrial Agency, at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Through the publication of its industrial strategy green paper, we have seen the Government reaffirm its commitment to delivery of long-term infrastructure projects, such as HS2, whilst also committing to plans to expand digital infrastructure. While these are clearly important, overall we would like to see less high level political rhetoric from Government and more detail which businesses can properly plan against.
“For example, what does addressing regional imbalances actually mean in practice? Instead of geographical pockets of investment, we would rather see investment in the overall infrastructure such as labour, technology and transport. This would be far more successful in getting businesses to follow suit – which is what will ultimately determine the success of the Government’s efforts.
“From a real estate perspective moving forwards, we would like a focus on regular business rates revaluations as well as a more straightforward planning process which includes an urgent full review of the Green Belt. Overall, we would like to see much quicker implementation on infrastructure projects – which is a longstanding issue.”
Robert Keen, BIFA’s director general, says that the initiatives in the announcement should provide a welcome boost for British industry and have a positive impact on the activities of BIFA’s members that deliver supply chain services across multiple industrial sectors.
“Among other things, the Government has identified the need for capital and infrastructure investments, research and development, as well as skills training.
“BIFA has frequently said that there is a pressing need to improve the country's transport infrastructure across all modes.
“We have been very vocal on the need to address skills shortages, especially within the logistics sector.
“Our thoughts on the importance of free trade to the businesses that our members' serve is well documented.
“So it is pleasing to hear that the Green Paper delivered by the Prime Minister has recognised the pressing need to address those issues.
“Now we look forward to seeing some action on the words delivered yesterday.”
REACTION: db symmetry
Andrew Dickman, director at North West logistics developer db symmetry, commented: “Today’s announcement from the Government must be welcomed. UK businesses need a clear strategy in place to ensure that Britain will remain competitive in a post-Brexit environment and it is encouraging to see the Government adopt a proactive approach. The Northern Powerhouse is the heart of British industry and it is therefore only fitting that the strategy will be launched at May’s first regional cabinet meeting in the North West of England. As a national business that is heavily involved in large-scale property development, working with local authorities and businesses across the North, we have a vested interest and will be listening acutely to make sure connectivity, infrastructure, skills and investment are at the top of the agenda.”
Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Policy at RICS said: For the first time in a long time, we have a government who are keen to collaborate with industry. But let us not underestimate the scale of the challenge. We are facing our worst construction skills crisis in twenty years and with the possible loss of access to the single market, this will only get worse. The Industrial Strategy’s focus on skills is essential if we are to train the workforce we need to meet our ambitious infrastructure targets.
“And while these are warm words, more detail is needed on whether a sector deal will be available for land, property and construction - an essential if this Government and the forthcoming Housing White Paper are able to solve this country’s housing crisis. Beyond skills, there are shorter term barriers preventing industrial growth in our sector. These range from lack of available land to planning delays. If these are not tackled with urgency, we will no longer be the builders.”
The government is now inviting comment on the green paper before 17th April. It can be found at: http://linkis.com/citizenspace.com/9aVLC