Today EEF is hosting the first ever National Manufacturing Conference. We will be hearing from politicians including Vince Cable and Ed Milliband about their vision for the economy and manufacturing.
With the Budget a little over two weeks away, just what are we looking to hear?
We all know that the economy remains in a precarious position. After a contraction in the last quarter of 2012 even the OBR's most recent forecasts look as though they will be difficult to meet, especially as aside from net trade, growth relies on a 7.7% expansion in business investment this year.
Whilst there is cautious optimism amongst manufacturers, 2012 will no doubt be a challenging year. The Eurozone crisis continues to discourage investment and dampen demand, with firms running low stock levels and keeping a close eye on order books. Other issues are emerging too, such as shortages of raw materials.
We support the government's fiscal stance, and the clearly defined Fiscal Mandate which represents a strong commitment to reducing the budget deficit and will help keep interest rates lower for longer – a key benefit to business. What we now need is an equally clear, and equally strong, commitment to growth.
The government's Plan for Growth must be transformed to have the political traction of its fiscal partner.
The government should set out its vision for what a better-balanced economy in 2015 would look like. Our four ambitions for the UK economy are:
- More companies bringing products and services to market
- More globally-focused companies choosing to expand in the UK
- A lower cost of doing business
- A more productive and more flexible labour force
See our next blog about the key indicators that would underpin these ambitions – here