Intelligence Briefing 29th October 2015

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In this issue: Weekly Focus: UK Steel gives evidence to BIS Select Committee on steel crisis | Devolution in England on the agenda with Communities and Local Government Select Committee Chair | Engagement with Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson | EEF meet Lord Hodgson to discuss Apprenticeships | Operational Excellence Study Tour in Germany | In Parliament | In the Media | Week in Review | The week ahead | Blogs from this week

Weekly Focus: UK Steel gives evidence to BIS Select Committee on steel crisis

UK Steel Director Gareth Stace gave evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee this week, along with representatives from Tata Steel Europe, Celsa Steel UK and Community Trade Union. MPs sought to understand the reasons for recent steel closures in Teesside, Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire, resulting in the loss of over 3,000 jobs, and actions government is taking to address the problem.

Gareth Stace explained the steel industry was in grave danger, facing electricity prices twice as expensive as German competitors. Five key demands had been made at the recent steel summit; including action on electricity prices, business rates, Chinese steel dumping, and use of British steel in UK projects. He added urgent government action was required to address these competitiveness issues.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP and Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Anna Soubry MP are working to obtain EU state aid approval for energy price compensation and make progress on issues raised at the steel summit. BIS will also look into claims that British steelmakers had been disadvantaged in supplying materials for the Hinckley Point nuclear power station.

For further information please contact Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel

Devolution in England on the agenda with Communities and Local Government Select Committee Chair

EEF met the Chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Clive Betts MP, to discuss the government's plans for devolution in England. We highlighted that manufacturers can see some of the benefits of devolution in England, but success will need a sustained dialogue between local decision makers and businesses going forward.

We made the case for an amendment to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill to establish Enterprise Panels, an evolution of LEPs, as part of combined authority frameworks. With powers for economic development moving from LEPs to mayors and combined authorities, having a more formalised role for LEPs will be needed to avoid them being side-lined in the future. EEF will continue to engage with the Select Committee and politicians with an interest in these key issues affecting the future of devolution in England.

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

Engagement with Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson

EEF met Baroness Randerson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport to discuss recent Government announcements on transport and infrastructure. We highlighted the need for the recently-announced Roads Fund to be extended to cover the local road network and discussed the importance of Heathrow expansion to manufacturing. EEF will continue to meet and brief Parliamentarians on the key issues that can contribute to making Britain a better place for the manufacturing sector to thrive.

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

EEF meet Lord Hodgson to discuss Apprenticeships

EEF met Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts to discuss Apprenticeships. We focused on how we can ensure that Apprenticeships are of high quality and meet the required standards. This is a topical issue as the Enterprise Bill will be debated in the House of Lords this week and next. The Bill seeks to protect the term ‘Apprenticeship’, however we believe that the Government needs to go further to protect the quality and brand of Apprenticeships.

For further information please contact Verity O’Keefe, Senior Employment and Skills Policy Adviser

Operational Excellence Study Tour in Germany

EEF has teamed up with True North Excellence to offer members a unique opportunity to visit three of Germany’s leading manufacturers: Porsche, Trumpf and Bosch. Each of the visits will focus on operational excellence and will give delegates direct access to the management teams and the production facilities of these three world class organisations. EEF members wishing to join the study tour on 3-4 February 2016 will receive a £150 discount per delegate. Simply quote your EEF membership number in the Partner Code section of the booking form. For more information, or to book your place, please visit the True North Excellence website.

In Parliament

Conservative peer Lord Howell of Guildford quoted UK Steel on rising energy costs’ effect on the UK steel industry during the report stage of the Energy Bill.

Crossbench peer Lord Taylor of Warwick referenced EEF in a written question on the Government’s proposed introduction of an apprenticeship levy.

In the media

UK Steel’s statement ahead of and during the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee’s enquiry on the UK steel industry featured in The Times (£), The Financial Times (£), The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Independent.

UK Steel’s response to the Prime Minister’s energy cost compensation announcement was reported in The Times (link unavailable), The Financial Times (£), The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and BBC News.

The UK Steel summit and UK Steel’s attendance continued to generate coverage in The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer (link unavailable).

EEF’s comments on the latest GDP figures were covered in The Guardian.

For more information contact Sophie Carroll, External Affairs Executive

Week in review

GDP (Q3, first estimate)

GDP is estimated to have grown by 0.5% in Q3 after having grown by 0.7% in Q2. This was slightly below the consensus forecast of 0.6%. Despite growing GDP, Manufacturing output continued to fall, dropping 0.3%. This was the third consecutive quarter of contraction for the sector.

The week ahead

2nd November: Manufacturing PMI

Blogs from this week

26 Oct 2015
Week ahead by Zach Witton

27 Oct 2015
A disappointing third quarter for UK manufacturers by Zach Witton

28 Oct 2015
Some good news on R&D tax reliefs for innovative SMEs by Felicity Burch

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