Prime Minister announces Industrial Strategy

The Prime Minister, Theresa May has unveiled plans for a new, more interventionist, industrial strategy, designed to boost the post-Brexit UK economy.
It is understood that the Prime Minister will also announce a further £56m investment in the Northern Powerhouse, including a new innovation fund for businesses in Manchester and Cheshire.

The Prime Minister will also ensure every city has a designated free school for 11 to 18-year-olds acting as a specialist centre of learning for maths, in an attempt to remedy the shortage of graduates in the subject.

A green paper will set out ways the government can provide assistance to business by addressing skills development.

The 10-point plan involves:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation.
  • Developing skills.
  • Upgrading infrastructure.
  • Supporting business to start and grow.
  • Improving government procurement.
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment.
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth.
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors.
  • Driving growth across the whole country.
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has welcomed the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy consultation. The consultation launched by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) highlights affordable decarbonisation, as well as energy storage as priorities for the Government. Coming shortly after BEIS and Ofgem’s smart power consultation the latest proposals reaffirm Government’s direction of travel towards a modern, flexible network that can deliver clean generation at home, alongside international business opportunities.

Paul Barwell, STA chief executive, commented: “Solar is key to both the smart energy industrial opportunity and to cost-effective decarbonisation. Indeed, BEIS’ own projections have solar as one of the cheapest forms of clean electricity by 2020. There is now an international expectation that solar will form the backbone of clean power systems in future. We look forward to working with BEIS to remove the needless UK barriers that prevent solar making the exceptional contribution that it can to a competitive, modern economy.

“The strong political support for storage in this strategy is warmly welcome. Many of our members stand ready today to deliver intelligent storage solutions across the power system. We look forward to working with Government to unlock storage markets in the UK as quickly as possible.”

The Government’s priority of affordable energy comes at odds with its removal of support for the cheapest forms of renewable energy, whilst investing in more expensive alternatives. The forthcoming business rates rise for some solar systems will also put off commercial sector investors, who are important stakeholders in the smart energy revolution. The STA is urging Government to align its energy policies to its smart power, affordability and industrial objectives.

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) also supports Government plans for a new strategy for British industry. Designed to boost a post-Brexit economy, the plan is promising more support for business, heavy investment in the research and development of new technologies, along with the establishment of a series of Institutes of Technology across England and Wales.

A total of £170 million has been earmarked for new educational establishments, which will focus on the engineering, technology and construction industries. In addition, the Government will be able take advantage of the lifting of state aid rules after the UK leaves the EU. This means the Government can take a more active role in supporting industry and backing businesses.

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE said: “The Government is right to be worried about the impact of skills shortages, especially in the construction and manufacturing sectors. The issues we have been confronting for decades will come to a head with the UK’s withdrawal from the single market.”

“We encourage all measures in strengthening education in the construction sector and developing greener more sustainable technologies. We would welcome greater recognition of the competency of individuals in the plumbing and heating sector who are indeed ‘proud to be professional’ and provide essential support for British industry.”