Intelligence Briefing 16th June 2016

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In this issue:

Weekly Focus – Sickness Absence Survey 2016 | Roundup of the International Festival for Business Events | EEF Meets Chris White MP | The Business Finance Guide | In the media | Week in Review | The week ahead | Blogs from this week |

Weekly Focus – Sickness Absence Survey 2016

EEF and Jelf’s Sickness Absence Survey 2016 – the largest of its kind in the UK – shows that the UK suffers a chronic sickness absence problem while, at the same time, an under-pressure NHS is proving unable to support the working age population by providing timely and effective rehabilitation and medical treatment.

41% of companies say long-term absence increased in the last two years. Back problems and musculoskeletal disorders remain the main cause, followed by medical tests, investigations and surgery. The survey shows that manufacturers pay out £0.6 billion per year in sick pay - £211 per employee.

Demand conditions across most industry segments now seem to be turning a corner but we have to base this on the working assumption of manufacturers that the UK will avoid the turmoil and uncertainty of leaving the EU. This underpins our forecast of a return to growth for manufacturing as whole in the second half this year.

EEF is calling for tax breaks to encourage more employers to pay for private treatment for employees and ease the burden on the NHS.

Fiscal incentives would encourage employers to provide private healthcare as part of wider efforts to tackle the UK’s productivity puzzle - a fit and healthy workforce is an essential component of economic growth. Currently, only one in five manufacturers pays for non-NHS medical treatment, but the survey suggests 60% would pay for private treatment if the cost was offset.

The survey also highlights the fall in employers’ confidence in GPs to improve return to work rates, with the effectiveness of the ‘fit note’ system continuing to deteriorate. 45% of employers report that the ‘fit note’ is failing to get employees back to work earlier.

The full report can be accessed here.

For more information contact Terry Woolmer, Head of Health and Safety Policy

Roundup of the International Festival for Business Events

The second International Festival for Business kicked off this week in Liverpool, and EEF hosted a special half day conference as part of the event entitled ‘Made in Britain. Loved by the World.’

The International Festival for Business – Britain’s biggest-ever business festival – aims to provide entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers, business leaders and suppliers from across the world with an unrivalled opportunity to do deals. In 2014, it attracted delegates from all major markets, resulting in more than £200m in new investment, £80m in export sales and almost 6,000 new jobs in the year following. This year its economic value is expected to be £26.5million.

EEF’s conference provided an international perspective of manufacturing in the UK and to identify what it is about the sector that overseas markets and investors find so attractive. Over 300 manufacturers from across the UK heard keynote speeches from Lord Price CVO, Minister State for Trade and Investment and Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, CBE, DL.

Lord Price told the audience that the UK manufacturing sector has a strong tradition of exporting and that the success of business and success of society are inextricably linked. The Government is committed to an ambitious target of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion and seeing an additional 100,000 companies exporting by 2020. As avid exporters, manufacturers are critical to helping achieve this goal. Lord Bilimoria talked about how Britain had thrown off its image of being the ‘sick man of Europe’ to now punch significantly above its weight. He highlighted the key role that Britain, and its manufacturers, still had to play in the global economy.

There were also two panel debates – one looking at trends in global manufacturing and the extent to which the UK is placed to capitalise on them, the second looking at the UK’s track record on innovation – with panellists including entrepreneurs Angus Thirlwell of Hotel Chocolat, Jenny Holloway of Fashion Enter and Will Butler-Adams OBE of Brompton Bicycle. They were joined by seasoned industrialists, including Dick Elsy of HVMC, Brian Holliday of Siemens and Dermot Sterne of Applied Component Technology.

For more information contact Celia Charlwood, Senior Government Affairs Adviser

EEF Meets Chris White MP

This week EEF met with Chris White MP, a member of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and All Party Manufacturing Group. With the EU referendum looming, Mr White expressed his support for the UK’s continued membership of the EU, recognising the importance of the single market to the UK’s automotive manufacturing sector, where he formerly worked before entering into politics.

The forthcoming apprenticeship levy, and its likely impact upon apprentices in the manufacturing sector, was also raised given the keen interest Mr White has in the development of engineering skills. With the levy proving a major concern for EEF and its members, future scrutiny of the levy by parliamentarians may prove an important factor in the development of the levy before its launch in April 2017.

For more information contact Tim Thomas, Director of Employment and Skills

The Business Finance Guide

EEF is pleased to be a partner in the new Business Finance Guide – a journey from startup to growth, which sets out the main things to consider and outlines sources of finance available to businesses – ranging from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies.

This unique guide, devised for businesses and advisers by the ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty together with the British Business Bank, is supported by 21 major professional, membership and representative organisations. It draws on the considerable expertise of its many contributors, who together represent more than a million members in businesses, finance providers, advisory firms and organisations.

The guide also includes several tools and ideas, as well as explanatory videos to help businesses consider their options, make decisions and plan how they will finance expansion.

The new guide can be accessed online at here.

For more information contact George Nikolaidis, Senior Economist

In the media

This week the release of EEF’s Sickness Absence Survey 2016 received coverage across major media outlets, featuring in Sky News, ITV News, The FT, The Daily Mail (link unavailable), I (link unavailable) and across BBC national and regional radio. EEF’s warnings and pleas for clarity regarding the apprenticeship levy were featured in The Mail, The Times Online (link unavailable), The Times (link unavailable). UK Steel’s regular coverage continued, featuring in City AM and Channel 4 News. As the EU referendum edges ever closer, EEF was featured in Sky News, Reuters and The Mail.

For more information contact Mark Swift, Head of News

Week in review


Unemployment fell by 20,000 in the three months to April, bringing the rate down to 5.1% - the lowest in almost 10 years. Manufacturing added 22,000 jobs in the first quarter taking employment in the sector to its highest level in seven years.

Average earnings

Earnings growth across the whole economy was stable at 2% in the three months to April. Across manufacturing, pay growth dipped slightly to 1.6%.

The week ahead

no data releases

Blogs from this week

13 Jun 2016
Weekly round up of forthcoming data releases - by Zach Witton

14 Jun 2016
EEF CEO, Terry Scuoler, on the Made in Britian, Loved by the World event at the IFB 2016 - by Terry Scuoler

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