Manufacturers perceive finance sector bias from government

The government is failing to promote UK manufacturing and remains more committed to the financial sector than UK industry, according to a poll commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The survey of 1,000 manufacturers reveals that 61 per cent of respondents believe the government is performing badly on manufacturing policy, with 17 per cent of those polled saying the government is performing well.

Additionally, 35 per cent say they are less confident about the future of UK manufacturing compared with 23 per cent in 2012. A further 53 per cent of manufacturers polled think the government’s energy policies are performing ‘badly’.

Nearly three quarters of manufacturers polled said that the government is not doing enough with careers advice to promote science, engineering and manufacturing in schools, a view backed up by 55 per cent of members of the public who took part in the survey.

In a poll of 1,000 members of the public, 53 per cent said the uncertainty of surrounding the UK’s future in the EU is negatively affecting UK manufacturing, and 19 per cent believes Coalition policies are helping UK manufacturers.

86 per cent of manufacturers said the government is more committed to the financial sector than manufacturing, a view reflected by 51 per cent of the public.

In a statement Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at IMechE said: ‘It is clear from these findings that the majority of people, whether they work in manufacturing or not, believe the government is not doing enough to promote, help and support UK manufacturing.

‘Our survey in 2012 revealed that the government’s manufacturing policies did not have the support of manufacturers or the public. One year on, it seems the situation has got worse.

‘The UK manufacturing sector should be at the very heart of a thriving economy, but there is little confidence among the respondents that the government is doing enough to make this happen. Indeed, people overwhelmingly said the UK government still remains far too committed to the financial sector, when it should be looking to the potential of manufacturing to spearhead economic recovery and lead the country towards growth.

‘We have welcomed the interest shown in UK manufacturing by the main party leaders in recent months, but visits to factories and warm words of encouragement are not enough.

‘Government must set out a clear, long-term industrial strategy with cross-party support. This strategy must look to address the engineering skills shortage and provide greater financial incentives similar to the research and development tax credits already implemented.’

The independent telephone polls, commissioned by IMechE, were completed in March 2013.

MSS Research surveyed 1,000 members of the Institution currently working in the manufacturing sector. ICM conducted a separate poll of 1,000 members of the general public.