Britain's manufacturers have published a top ten priority list for the first year of an incoming government, with a scorecard of measures against which efforts to boost growth will be judged.
The list, published by EEF, the manufacturers' organisation builds on the key objectives included in its manifesto for a new government 'Securing a manufacturing renaissance' which sets out the core foundations for boosting investment, supporting growing businesses, improving skills, making it easier to do business as well as securing Britain's membership of the EU.
Commenting, EEF Chief Executive, Terry Scuoler, said:
"We are now at a critical stage for the UK economy and while the last five years have been about rebuilding, the next five must be about delivering a better balanced economy and sustained growth. Some important groundwork has been laid and it is vital the next government hits the ground running and builds on what has worked to date.
"Achieving a true rebalancing of the economy and a step change in our productivity was never going to be a one or even two parliament task. The next government, however it is made up, must commit to immediate policies which will build on and encourage growth, boost private sector investment and job creation."
According to EEF, the longer term aim should be to restore the public finances, improve productivity and secure real wage growth. In particular, the next government should set an ambition for measurable improvements in productivity relative to our international competitors, a step change in investment behaviour in the private sector and a marked improvement in the UK's trade performance.
EEF believes this can only be achieved by setting stretching goals and performance measures to ensure spending decisions are delivering the best outcomes for business and the wider public.
While these goals go beyond the lifetime of a single parliament, EEF believes an immediate start needs to be made in the first year of the next government to continue to boost growth and help provide the confidence to drive private sector investment.
According to EEF, the top ten policy priorities should be to:
- Announce a roadmap for company tax reform, especially reform of the tax allowances that support companies investing for the future.
- Upgrade the transport networks on which business relies, especially by fixing the £12 billion road maintenance backlog, as part of a new long-term national infrastructure plan. This should include the announcement of a National Infrastructure Authority.
- Ringfence the science and innovation budgets in the same way schools are protected.
- Focus UKTI's work on providing help for smaller companies to access global markets with advice, local market expertise and business-focussed embassies abroad.
- Support a successful Transatlantic trade deal (TTIP) with the United States.
- Implement the commitment to give employers real buying power for training, through digital training vouchers.
- Restore an effective careers service with real employer engagement all the way up the schools system from primary to sixth form.
- Commit to reforming the over-complicated and uncompetitive system of carbon taxes and levies.
- Double this government's cut in the costs of regulatory compliance in the UK, and press for Brussels to introduce compliance cost assessments for EU Directives on the UK model.
- Commit to making the case for Britain's continued membership of a reformed Europe.