Intelligence Briefing 15th October 2015

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In this issue: Weekly Focus – EEF publishes report on devolution in England | Look out for UKTI’s Export Week | Fit for Work seminar | In Parliament | In the media | Week in Review | The week ahead | Blogs from this week                                               

Weekly Focus – EEF publishes report on devolution in England

This week EEF published ‘Devolution in England - The Business Plan’. Our policy paper sets out manufacturers’ initial views on the process of devolution, how it could make a difference to their local business environment and, most importantly, how they want to engage with what is set to be a fast moving policy agenda.

Businesses are crucial to the success of devolution within England. Private sector firms are the ones who will pay the taxes, create the jobs and provide the economic growth that will deliver the ultimate outcomes of devolution in England – higher living standards and lower public sector expenditure through higher levels of productivity.

The report highlights three key messages from manufacturers to local and national government:

  • Be ambitious about local growth, but while budgets are tight avoid duplication of programmes, frequent changes in support and adding to business costs
  • Focus early action on the aspects of the local business environment which have both a strong local flavour and can demonstrate early wins for businesses and local growth – manufacturers believe this should be transport investment
  • Make businesses part of the devolution process, by evolving LEPs and integrating their voice into the decision making process of combined authorities.

Manufacturers can see some of the benefits of devolution. However, a bit of work is needed to get business buy in at the local level and to make sure that policy decisions have time to bed in. This will need a sustained dialogue going forward.

EEF will be engaging with MPs to ensure the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, currently going through Parliament, provides clarity on the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships during and after devolution in England.

We believe the Bill should be amended to establish Enterprise Panels, as overview and scrutiny committees, as part of the new governance framework at the local level.

For further information please contact Chris Richards, Senior Business Environment Policy Adviser

Look out for UKTI’s Export Week

UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) Export Week will be running 9-13 November. The highlight of the week is ExploreExport – a UK-wide roadshow where UKTI’s overseas officers will provide companies with bespoke market export insight and advice.

It will be visiting 11 cities, providing invaluable support for companies thinking of breaking into new overseas markets or expanding their current activities.

To encourage more manufacturers to make the leap into new markets, UKTI is offering EEF members a special discount - EEF25 – which will give you a 25% discount. To use this code and to find out more visit:

Fit for Work seminar

EEF is holding a series of half-day seminars across England on the new Fit for Work service, which will give an overview of the impact the government’s new Fit for Work Service may have on reducing long-term sickness absence. HR managers and occupational health practitioners are encouraged to attend to understand what changes their companies will need to make to their current sickness absence arrangements. For more information visit EEF’s website or call 0845 293 9850.

In Parliament

This week Lord Taylor of Warwick highlighted EEF’s concerns about the proposed introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in a Written Question to the Business Secretary in Parliament.

In the media

UK Steel’s response to the closure of the SSI plant in Redcar was widely covered in The Times (£), The Financial Times (£), The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Daily Mail.

The findings from EEF’s Devolution in England: the business voice plan report featured in The Daily Telegraph (link unavailable) and The Independent (link unavailable).

EEF’s Head of Employment Policy Tim Thomas was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on the government’s proposed apprenticeship levy.

For more information contact Sophie Carroll, External Affairs Executive

Week in review

UK Trade

In the 3-months to August 2015, the UK’s deficit on trade in goods and services was £8.1bn; widening by £1.3bn compared with the 3-months to May 2015. The trade in goods deficit also widened to £31.4bn as exports decreased by £1.5bn and imports increased by £0.3bn.

Consumer prices

The Consumer Prices Index fell by 0.1% in the year to September 2015, down from 0.0% in the year to August. The fall was driven by a smaller than usual increase in clothing prices and falling motor fuel prices.

Labour market statistics

The employment rate posted its highest ever reading at 73.6% and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4% in the three months to August, its lowest level since June 2008. The absolute number of people unemployed fell by 49,000 compared with the three months to July, leaving the total down 198,000 on the same period a year ago.

The week ahead

No major data releases expected

Blogs from this week

12 Oct 2015
This is what manufacturers think about devolution in England by Chris Richards

12 Oct 2015
Week ahead 12 October by Zach Witton

13 Oct 2015
Transport is an enabler and should be the focus of devolution asks by Chris Richards

14 Oct 2015
UK labour market tightens further by Zach Witton

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