Government must boost confidence

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Britain’s Coalition Government has been urged to show its commitment to manufacturing.

The call comes from former steel chief and Senior Warden of the Cutlers’ Company Tony Pedder.

He would like to see an independent watchdog launched to scrutinise the impact Government policies, budgets and other actions have on industry.

Mr Pedder, who used to run British steelmaker Corus – now Tata Steel – was speaking in Sheffield, at the annual Cutlers’ Feast.

He praised the Government for introducing measures to shift the balance of the economy back towards manufacturing.

However, he told feast guests, including leading figures from the City of London: “We need to see more, much more – and we need much more urgency.

“Growth and unlocking more new business investment are now major priorities in terms of turning potential into actual recovery.”

Mr Pedder called for a cross party commitment to give manufacturers the confidence to take investment decisions. He also urged the Government to set up an “Office for Manufacturing Competitiveness” on similar lines to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.

The new office would be made up of independent experts and practitioners, not politicians, and review the impact Government budgets and policies would have on UK manufacturing’s global competitiveness.

“What more powerful signal could our politicians send of the importance they really attach to genuine rebalancing than to put manufacturing competitiveness up there alongside budget responsibility?” asked Mr Pedder.

Early priorities for an Office for Manufacturing Competitiveness should include reviewing energy policy, the length of time it takes to approve major infrastructure projects, banking reform and Europe, Mr Pedder suggested.