Walker welcomes launch of ambitious Industrial Strategy

Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed the launch of the Government’s ambitious new Industrial Strategy, by Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK, building a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the United Kingdom with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.

With the aim of making the UK the world’s most innovative nation by 2030, the Government has committed to investing a further £725 million over the next 3 years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to respond to some of the greatest global challenges and the opportunities faced by the UK. This will include £170 million to transform the construction sector and help create affordable places to live and work that are safer, healthier and use less energy, and up to £210 million to improve early diagnosis of illnesses and develop precision medicine for patients across the UK. The Government is also committed to reaching a target of increasing research spending as a percentage of GDP to 2.4%, from the current level of 1.7%, by 2027. This will involve investment of an additional £2.3bn over what was previously planned in 2021/22, raising total public investment in R&D to approximately £12.5bn in that year alone.

Other policies and investments announced in yesterday’s White Paper include:

  • Establishing a technical education system that rivals the best in the world, to stand alongside our world-class higher education system
  • Investing an additional £406m in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills
  • Creating a new National Retraining Scheme that supports people to re-skill, beginning with a £64m investment for digital and construction training
  • Supporting electric vehicles through £400m charging infrastructure and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant
  • Boosting our digital infrastructure with over £1bn of public investment, including £176m for 5G and £200m for local areas to encourage roll out of full-fibre networks.
  • Providing £42m to pilot a Teacher Development Premium. This will test the impact of a £1000 budget for high-quality professional development for teachers working in areas that have fallen behind

In the strategy, the Government has identified 4 Grand Challenges; global trends that will shape our rapidly changing future and which the UK must embrace to ensure we harness all the opportunities they bring. The 4 are:

  • artificial intelligence – putting the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution
  • clean growth – maximising the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth
  • ageing society – harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society
  • future of mobility – becoming a world leader in the way people, goods and services move

Each Grand Challenge represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society to work and engage with the government to innovate, develop new technologies and ensure the UK seizes these global opportunities.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies. The UK is well-placed to benefit from this new industrial revolution and we start from a position of significant strength. We have a thriving research and science base and are home to a wide range of innovative sectors, from advanced manufacturing and life sciences, to fintech and creative industries.

“The Industrial Strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.”

Speaking after the Industrial Strategy launch, Robin said: “This strategy is an ambitious new partnership between government and businesses, academia, local government and devolved administrations that will give the UK the edge and endure for the long term.

“Coming after last week’s Budget which contained a number of really important announcements that will prepare our economy for the future, this Strategy builds on that message and reinforces the Government’s commitment to setting a long-term strategic direction for the UK.

“As we leave the EU there is an opportunity for us to do far more to engage with the wider world beyond Europe where there is so much emerging innovation and opportunity. The Industrial Strategy builds on our strengths, creating strong foundations to meet the challenges of the future, and will help us make the best of our relations with Europe and beyond.

“For Worcestershire, which saw the highest growth in productivity of any English county between 2010 and 2015, this Strategy is a further demonstration of our commitment to investing in skills, industries and infrastructure.

“Already this year we have seen £17.5million in investment for the county from the New Local Growth Fund - £4million of which is to be spent on Worcester’s new Further Education Engineering Campus. And in recent weeks a £3.2million allocation from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) has been announced to tackle city centre congestion, making it easier for business to thrive in Worcester.

“I look forward to having further discussions with local residents and business-owners to explore precisely what opportunities might be unlocked by this ambitious strategy, and how it can help us to maintain and improve our ever-growing local economy and skills-base.”