Modern Industrial Strategy: The reaction

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On Monday a Modern Industrial Strategy was launched, which sets out the government’s approach to addressing long-term challenges to the UK economy.

The green paper aims to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the country through “10 strategic pillars”.

The government said that the strategy forms a vital part of the Plan for Britain that was set out by Prime Minister Theresa May last week.

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said that the publication of an industrial strategy is an “important first step” in achieving a strong, sustainable and world-class steel sector.

“We will continue to work with government to embed UK steel as a foundation industry, promote skills, productivity and local growth, deliver cost competitiveness and world-class innovation, focus on long-term investment and continue the drive for decarbonisation,” he said.

“It’s clear that much still needs to be done in reaching a sector deal and we are committed to working with the Secretary of State for Business and his team to try to get the right supportive policy framework in place as quickly as possible, so that the steel sector is underpinning the industrial strategy.”

Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "The government's modern industrial strategy is encouraging. It is an important first step which will help the UK's food and drink manufacturers manage the range of significant economic challenges we currently face.

"We're pleased to see measures which support innovation, encourage the development of skills and look to boost trade. These all align with food and drink manufacturers' ambitions to grow and thrive in the UK."

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said the strategy must help fix the country’s “productivity problems” and remove “regional inequalities”.

“The CBI has long-called for a new Industrial Strategy and it’s welcome to see the government creating an opportunity for all sectors to get involved,” she said. “Our members across every region and nation of the UK will have a fundamental role to play to help shape the thinking and – most importantly – deliver the impact we all want to see.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added: “The 132-page green paper published today is the start of an economic blueprint for the UK.

"FSB members are based in every local area of the country, and so from a first look at the full publication we are pleased that the approach avoids being top-down, but instead is formed around driving local economic growth and productivity.

“With the right moves on the tax system, on supply chain management, and on elements in a locally-driven Industrial Strategy that improves skills policy, infrastructure delivery, connectivity and public procurement, the UK could indeed be the best in the world.”

However, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Clive Lewis, warned that “what we’ve heard today is full of rhetoric and thin on detail”.

“From business rates to Brexit, many of businesses’ most pressing concerns are currently going unanswered,” he said. “Unless the government puts a lot of flesh on these bones this will be a strategy of spin rather than substance.

“All the signs so far are that the Government is not prepared to put its money where its mouth is.

“For all the fanfare, reversing the economic damage done by the Tories and steering the economy through the turbulent times ahead is going to require the government to be much bolder.”

A public consultation on the proposals is now open until 17 April.