Plant & Works Engineering
Pragmatism wins!
Published:  15 November, 2018

With the ongoing political shenanigans (some would say organised chaos, others just outright chaos – I’ll let you decide which is the most apt), in full flow, it was rather comforting that the recent Budget was a practical, realistic statement from a Chancellor who is wise to keep firepower in reserve should the economy enter choppy waters when the UK leaves the EU.

As the EEF has pointed out, manufacturers will be boosted that the Chancellor has kept his eye on the ball of tackling the UK’s longstanding productivity problem which remains a bar to raising living standards and improving our long term economic performance. Almost one year on from its inception the further boost to the industrial strategy will signal to companies that the Government is serious about backing it with funding in key areas for the long term.

In addition, as well as continuing commitments to invest in modern physical and digital infrastructure the changes to annual allowances is significant at a time when business investment has been falling continuously since the referendum, while small companies in particular will welcome further changes to Apprenticeship funding.

This was reiterated by Peter Finegold, head of education policy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, who commented that the Institution welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to make up to £450 million available so that apprenticeship levy paying employers can transfer up to 25% of their levy fund to companies in their supply chain”, adding that the IMechE also endorsed the provision of Government funding to halve contributions smaller companies pay towards apprenticeship training from 10% to 5%.

Engineering has a long tradition of high quality apprenticeships, and I therefore agree with Peter Finegold, that we can only hope that these two measures announced in the Budget will contribute to continued progress to produce a generation of highly trained and adaptable technical experts.

This Budget seems to have shown manufacturers, at least on the surface, that the Government is being more pragmatic. At a time when we need to show the UK is open for business and is building a modern economy post Brexit, the financial prudence with targeted commitments to boost productivity can only be a good thing to build on.