Our headline story for June 2001.

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Government support needed for UK manufacturing

Without wishing to sound too downbeat, the last few years have not been the greatest for British manufacturers. Personally I would suggest that there seem to have been as many if not more business closures in our industry than at any other time during the last decade.
This Government, and in the interest of balance, the Government before it, seem to think that the disappearance of UK manufacturing is an inevitability. Most smaller engineering companies have survived despite of rather than because of Government support.
Whilst the large Aerospace companies seem to get large and regular injections of tax payers cash, the small companies who employ more people collectively are ignored and left to fend for themselves.

The best way to make British enginnering more productive and competitive is through investment in modern technology & machinery. We now compete in a global market with countries where labour costs, overheads etc. are much lower and tax breaks are better. The cost led nature of product procurement has seen increasing amount of domestic business being sent abroad on the back of fantastic promises on delivery and price.
Sticking my neck out, I would suggest that the majority of British manufactures are as good, if not better, than their foreign counterparts and largely competitive on deliveries and certainly on price. Increased investment would see these two key points improved dramatically.

Your job next?

So how can we give UK manufacturers the capital they need to invest to stay globally competitive? The simple answer is to 'Buy British' - probably not the most fashionable or politically correct thing to say. Unfortunately, it could probably be said that in the past British manufacturers have been there own worst enemies - late deliveries being the biggest problem . To buy British, we need British engineering companies to produce the goods we need, when we need them.

Sourcing goods abroad is the thin end of a very long wedge. Blue collar jobs are generally the first to diminish, but it seems that erosion carries on up the employment ladder, with whole operations eventually disappearing abroad where costs are lower. The best way to safeguard UK jobs is to invest in the UK.
So the question is, which Political Party is willing to back British manufacturing? Most UK companies would like us to join the single currency, but cut the amount of red tape and legislation which has been introduced as a consequence of being part of the EU - a fundamental contradiction, I would think. All three major parties are promising to cut small business tax, but the debate on the euro is pretty much off the political agenda - why? Here's looking forward to the referendum.... just don't hold your breath.

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now! But please don't assume that the rest of the world has more to offer than the UK - Buy British!

*The views above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Celect Tools.

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