A survey by IMechE and BDO shows that manufacturers trust the Conservatives more than Labour or the Liberal Democrats when it comes to introducing policies that support British manufacturing.
When manufacturers were asked which political party has the best policies to support UK manufacturing, the Conservatives gained 40 per cent of responses, compared to five per cent for Labour and three per cent who said the Liberal Democrats. However, 28 per cent felt that no political parties had the right answers.
The Engineered in Britain: Manufacturing a Successful Economy? 2014 report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and BDO is an annual study to gauge the opinion of 1,000 manufacturers and 1,000 members of the public on the current status of UK manufacturing.
When asked whether the government’s policies are helping UK manufacturers, 41 per cent of manufacturers and 34 per cent of the public said yes, up from 26 per cent and 19 per cent last year.
When asked about specific policy areas, 58 per cent of manufacturers said the government was performing well on the economy, up from 31 per cent in 2013, while 26 per cent of manufacturers said government was performing well on manufacturing policy, which compares to 17 per cent last year.
While results were broadly positive, there was some scepticism about the feasibility of the government’s target of doubling UK exports by 2020, with 64 per cent of manufacturers polled saying this was unrealistic.
In terms of skills, 89 per cent of manufacturers polled said that the UK is not producing enough engineers to sustain the UK’s future economic growth and 65 per cent said the government is not doing enough with careers advice to promote science, engineering and manufacturing in schools.
According to the study, 61 per cent of the manufacturers said they were more confident about the future of manufacturing since the government came to power, compared to 28 per cent last year.
In a statement, Patrick Kniveton, president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: ‘A strong manufacturing base is crucial to building a resilient UK economy and it shows that government policies to introduce competitive corporate tax rates, cut red tape and encourage R&D, are working.
‘However, a shortage of engineers could hamper this sector’s future. It is hugely worrying that 89 per cent of manufacturers polled said that the UK is not producing enough engineers and there is clearly much more that could be done to promote science, engineering and manufacturing in schools.’
Tom Lawton, Head of Manufacturing at BDO LLP said: ‘We would very much like to see a long term cross party strategic framework established for manufacturing to help provide a firmer and clearer structure for the many manufacturing initiatives and to continue these beyond the term of a single parliament.’
When asked what UK manufacturing sectors were set to see the highest growth in the next 10 years, composite materials were seen as the most promising, gaining 85 per cent of the manufacturers’ vote, followed by biomedical 79 per cent), construction (73 per cent) and aerospace (69 per cent).
The public poll was carried out by ICM and the poll of manufacturers was carried out by MSS, both on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and BDO LLP.