Manufacturing? A balanced economy? Here's our top 5 policy priorities

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Better balanced economic growth has been something of a mantra for policy makers, economists and anyone else concerned with the UK's long-term economic performance over the course of this parliament. While growth is definitely back on, progress on rebalancing has been patchy. For the next government the focus on growth of the better balanced kind will be just as important over the next five years and this overarching objective provides the framework for EEF's 'Top 5 priorities for the next government' - published today.

Regular readers won't need reminding that we see manufacturing as a critical contributor to growth and rebalancing - the sector invests, innovates and exports more than other parts of the economy.

Setting a course for better balanced growth

Manufacturers longer term ambitions of entering new export markets, exploiting new technologies, being at the forefront of bringing new innovations to market, driving up productivity and providing skilled well paid jobs in their communities speak to the kind of growth government action should be focused on now and over the next parliament.

Achieving these ambitions will require hard work on the part of businesses and certainty that the UK will be a good place for investment now and in the future. So as we approach party conference season there are some commitments that all parties can make that would give business confidence that a future government is 100% focused on better balanced growth:

  • A clear vision of economic priorities to 2020 which drives tough decisions on fiscal priorities
  • A laser focus on international competitiveness to ensure business costs and regulation support UK investors and exporters
  • Collaboration with international partners - especially those in the EU - to achieve economic goals 

In addition there are a range of policy areas that need new or renewed focus in order to build the right business environment in which manufacturers can invest, innovate and generate growth. EEF's priorities are not a menu of options for the next government - these are the reforms that will make the biggest difference to manufacturers' ability to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.

Top 5

The UK business environment has some strong selling points - competitive corporate tax rates; a good innovation ecosystem and a strong science base all serve to anchor investments in manufacturing capacity in the UK. But there is still work to do...... 

50% of manufacturers say an improved supply of skills would positively support their investment plans in the UK

The next government must:

50% of manufacturers say that a government commitment to keep energy prices at or below the EU average would encourage them to expand in the UK

The next government must:

40% of manufacturers would prioritise additional resources for Innovate UK to boost the UK's innovation performance

The next government must:

One fifth of export-intensive manufacturers regard the state of transport infrastructure as a drawback to operating in the UK

The next government must:

85% of manufacturers want the UK to remain part of the European Union

The next government must:


Chief Economist

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