In anticipation of first Autumn Statement to be given by new Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, leading figures from the engineering, manufacturing and energy sectors have talked to us about what direction they want him to take the economy in.
John Elliott, Chairman of manufacturer Ebac, said: “The Chancellor needs to focus on reducing the country’s deficit, even if this is at the expense of growth. We can’t continue to keep selling assets and borrowing to spend more than we earn. We have the resources to earn more by manufacturing more, but it won’t happen if it's left to big business; Investing in manufacturing will be much better than spending billions on a high speed train line. The return from this investment in manufacturing will then pay for a high speed train line assuming that's what we need. Building the HS2 line is like a household that is spending more than it earns, building a brand new luxury conservatory;
The fact is, we’re living beyond our means and the solution is to earn more. The Autumn Statement should incentivise British investment in our own manufacturing sector, rather than in financial speculation, which in reality adds very little to the real economy. ”
John Elliott, Chairman of manufacturer Ebac
Richard Hogg, Managing Director of Jackson Hogg Recruitment, said: “Given the need to boost global exports in the wake of the Brexit vote and the likelihood that any financial stimulus will come in the form of infrastructure spending, it is vital the Chancellor takes account of the skills needed to deliver our future prosperity. Investment in skills now, or tax breaks for companies investing in them can pay dividends in decades to come, while under investment could waste a great deal of human and economic potential.”
Richard Hogg, Managing Director of Jackson Hogg Recruitment
George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF Energy, the business development organisation for the oil, gas, nuclear and offshore renewables sectors, said: “The Chancellor has the opportunity with his Autumn Statement to demonstrate that the Government supports the efforts of the energy industry to become more efficient and collaborative. Oil output from the North Sea has increased to the highest level in four years and a collection of offshore wind developments are coming on line, which are supported by supply chain companies that have developed and implemented technology-led solutions and innovative services that are addressing the challenges of the energy sectors.
“Further gains can be made by increasing incentives and tax reliefs for research and development and capital investment in kit and equipment that will enable supply chain companies to develop new and effective solutions and maintain the UK’s position as a leading player in the discovery, extraction and generation of a balanced mix of energy resources.”
George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF Energy
Penny Marshall, Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “Real and sustained economic growth can only come from a long-term strategic approach to infrastructure provision. For our region this means we need increased investment to improve transport within our towns and cities, and improve connectivity between the major cities of the Northern Powerhouse, within the region itself, and with London, I would also like to see further support for education and training to bridge the skills gap currently affecting all engineering sectors.”
Penny Marshall, Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, comments in advance of the Autumn Statement: “I will be looking to the Autumn Statement to see an indication of the Government’s approach to infrastructure investment. Low interest rates on Government debt and the need, in the wake of the referendum, to switch the UK economy to international trade outside the EU, creates an ideal environment for Government investment in infrastructure.
“The carbon price floor is damaging the viability of energy intensive industries, such as steel, glass and chemicals. The industry has called for the tax to be scrapped and replaced with measures that support the decarbonisation of industry, without offshoring production.
“Industry has called for Government to support a new innovation ‘Catapult’ for the metals and materials industries. Whilst I don’t expect such a Catapult to be announced in the Autumn Statement, I will be looking to what support Government intends to provide to the Foundation Industries in particular, that is distinct from, for instance, other aspects of high value manufacturing.”
Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute
John Savage, managing director of Flame Heating Spares, said: “As a business which has plans to continue expanding throughout the North East, I would like to see the Chancellor support business and enterprise, so that firms, like mine, can continue to flourish, create job opportunities, support local supply chains and aid the economic recovery.
John Savage, managing director of Flame Heating Spares
Phil Pallister, managing director of 0800 Repair Gas, said: “Business investments must be supported if the UK is to drive through this period of uncertainty. Favourable Government grants will help ease the burden of operating in uncertain times, as well as allow our region’s businesses to improve their infrastructure, hire new people, as well as look to the workforce of the future by investing in apprenticeships.
“Working people also need to be supported through initiatives like the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI), which, to my relief, wasn’t scrapped last year. As renewable technology has advanced, there are so many different cost effective energy systems available to people, so continued support and financial backing of such initiatives is another a must for the Chancellor.”
Phil Pallister, managing director of 0800 Repair Gas