Intelligence Briefing 19th February 2015

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In this issue: Influence future employment policy | EEF meets HMRC and HM Treasury to discuss small companies’ access to the R&D tax credit | Employers invited to co-design Degree Apprenticeships | EEF joins delegation to ‘Mittelstand’ in Germany | Government seeking manufacturers’ views on EU trade negotiations | Manufacturers invited to Royal Geographic Society event on future of UK manufacturing | DLA Piper to sponsor Manufacturing Outlook | In the media | Week in review | The week ahead

Influence future employment policy

With less than 100 days to go before the Election, the major political parties are publishing manifestos and making policy announcements that have the potential to significantly impact on businesses. This is particularly the case for employment policy, with some parties committing to abolishing the employment tribunal fee systems, abolishing the so-called ‘Swedish derogation’ to the Agency Workers Regulations, eradicating zero hours contracts or enforcing gender pay reporting for larger firms. Other suggestions have including extending the right to request flexible working for grandparents and going further with shared parental leave.

EEF’s policy team is gathering as much evidence as possible from its members to better understand the impact of such policies to aid its campaigning activities in the run-up to and following the General Election. We would like to invite you to contribute your thoughts and ideas on some of these key policy areas. Your views will help shape EEF’s campaigning priorities on employment-related issues to ensure that the next government creates an environment in which manufacturers can grow and prosper and not be held back by unnecessary employment regulation and red tape.

The focus group details are as follows:

  • Tuesday 24th March – 12.30pm until 14.00pm including lunch – St James’s House, Frederick Road, Birmingham, B15 1JJ
  • Thursday 26th March – 11.30am until 1.30pm including lunch – EEF, Station Road, Hook, RG27 9TL
  • Friday 27th March – 11.30am until 1.30pm including lunch – Broadway House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NQ

If you would like to attend, contact Verity O’Keefe, Employment and Skills Policy Advisor

EEF meets HMRC and HM Treasury to discuss small companies’ access to the R&D tax credit

Last Thursday EEF met with HMRC and HM Treasury officials to discuss their ongoing consultation on the accessibility of the R&D tax credit for small businesses. EEF highlighted the importance of the credit to manufacturers and said that whilst there were high levels of awareness, there were some barriers to accessing the credit, particularly related to the definition of R&D.

If members would like to engage directly on this matter, as part of the consultation process, HMRC and the Treasury are running a webinar for small businesses. This webinar will focus on specific aspects of the consultation in more detail and will enable you to ask questions directly to the policy officials and prompt a wider discussion. This webinar is designed both for businesses which have responded to the consultation (through the survey or a written response) and for those that have not yet responded. It will take place on Tuesday 24th February at 9am. If you would like to take part, please register at this website.

For more information contact Felicity Burch, Senior Economist

Employers invited to co-design Degree Apprenticeships

EEF is working with policy-makers to bring together manufacturing and engineering employers to co-design new Degree Apprenticeships, which involve employers, universities and professional bodies coming together to co-design an apprenticeship that leads to full occupation competency and a degree. It will provide a full programme of training and assessment for the apprenticeship. The apprentice will be working while they learn, and so will earn a wage throughout, and will not be required to contribute to the degree. Instead it will work like apprenticeships, with the government and the employer contributing to the training fees. For employers, Degree Apprenticeships will help companies attract new talent and acquire the skills they require – particularly at a higher-skill level. It will also give employers the chance to design degree programmes specifically tailored to their industry’s needs.

If you are an employer interested in co-designing a Degree Apprenticeship to meet your business needs, contact Verity O’Keefe, Employment and Skills Policy Advisor

EEF joins delegation to ‘Mittelstand’ in Germany

EEF’s Membership Director, Andrew Buckley, joined a delegation of UK manufacturers and union representatives on a two day tour to Germany to learn about best practice for the Mittelstand – the successful German mid-sized family-owned businesses. The delegation visited four leading companies and learned about best practice as part of the two day tour.

To read more about the delegation or for details about the next tour, visit Andrew Buckley’s blog.

Government seeking manufacturers’ views on EU trade negotiations

The EU is engaged in its most ambitious programme of trade negotiations in history, worth over £20billion to the UK economy. The UK Government is committed to ensuring that UK priorities for all free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations fully reflect the views of the UK business community in order to maximise UK plc benefits in these agreements.

The Government is seeking UK business’ views on current EU trade negotiations, including the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), EU-Mercosur FTA (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) and potential modernisation of the EU-Mexico FTA.

To receive the consultation questions, email All responses must be received by Friday 27th February.

Manufacturers invited to Royal Geographical Society event on future of UK manufacturing

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) will be holding an event in South Kensington in London on the future of UK manufacturing on Wednesday 25 March at 7pm. Speakers will include Will Butler-Adams OBE, Managing Director of Brompton Bicycles, and inventor and designer Jake Dyson. Discussions will be around new manufacturing technologies and the challenges facing skills, innovation and sustainability. Tickets costs £7 for members or £10 for non-members.

For more information or to book your place visit the Royal Geographical Society’s website or contact the events office on 020 7591 3100 or

DLA Piper to sponsor Manufacturing Outlook

EEF has announced a major partnership agreement with the global law firm DLA Piper which will see the firm sponsor EEF’s flagship quarterly ‘Manufacturing Outlook’ survey. The survey, which has been running for more than two decades, is the leading barometer for the manufacturing sector and one of the UK’s most closely watched business indicators, regularly feeding into Government and the Bank of England and providing an important overview of trends in the sector for our manufacturing audience.

For more information contact Mark Swift, Head of Communications

In the media

EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference and keynote speaker Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP featured in The Daily Telegraph (link unavailable).

The Times (£) referenced EEF research in an article on the potential cost of holiday pay settlements for manufacturers.

The Daily Mail (link unavailable) quoted EEF in an article on a cross-party pledge to slash carbon emissions and phase out the use of coal.

For more information contact Sophie Carroll, External Affairs Executive

Week in review

Consumer prices

The annual rate of CPI inflation hit an all-time low in January dropping to 0.3% from 0.5% in December. The fall was widely expected as the effects of lower oil and food prices continue to flow through to consumer prices.

Producer prices

Total input costs for manufacturers fell 14.2% in the year to January 2015, while output prices fell 1.8% in the same period. This was the largest fall in output prices since records began in 1997.

Labour market statistics

The number of people in employment was up by 103,000 in the three months to December, compared with the previous three-month period. The ILO measure of unemployment was down 97,000 over the quarter, and the ILO unemployment rate fell to 5.7% in the three months to December, compared with 7.2% in the same period a year earlier.

The week ahead

26th February: GDP (Q4, second estimate); Business investment

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