green-paperIn January 2017, BEIS published Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper. The paper sets out how the Government proposes to build a modern industrial strategy. By its nature, the Green Paper is a set of proposals for discussion and consideration, and an invitation to others to contribute collaboratively to their development. So as an organisation, through discussion with individual members, group sessions and our Board, we captured the views of our membership and submitted a response to the paper.

At this stage its unclear what, if any, impact the recently announced general election will make to the progress of the green paper – but we’d expect that should a Conservative government be returned it would only result in a delay, rather than any specific change to its passage.

A summary of our response is provided below, along with a link to download the full paper.

  • We welcome the Governments plan to adopt an Industrial Strategy and would support much of what is outlined within the Green Paper in terms of the way forward for our economy.
  • We would advocate the adoption of a long term plan which ideally should look to receive cross party support if it is to deliver on its core objectives – a plan which is driven only to the next election or spending review would not be in the best interests of the country or the economy.
  • The concentration on growth businesses is inevitable, but we think there is a place for recognition of and support for all businesses as they start up and grow – after all the more businesses that start, survive and thrive, the more potential there is to identify the growth businesses of tomorrow.
  • Putting a focus on ‘place’ is to be welcomed; as such ensuring engagement with the widest range of local players will ensure a greater potential to deliver on those vital economic priorities.

Our conclusion

industrial strategy responseDelivering an effective industrial strategy has to be to the benefit of the whole country, however to make this happen will require intelligent analysis and the long term application of intelligent policies designed to correct weaknesses across the economy; for that reason we are glad the process has started with a Green Paper as a means to develop ideas and thinking based on consultation and collaboration over time.

A long term, cross party UK strategy for anything, let alone one focused on improving business’ contribution to the economy might appear to be a significant challenge, but it is a challenge we should attempt to overcome if we are to truly address the issue with the buy-in of all concerned. Whilst acknowledging the need to respond with urgency to this issue, one which has such an impact on the economy, taking time to clarify the objectives and priorities for appropriate policy responses seems an important step and we would be delighted to assist in any such work as those discussions progress.

Download the NEN Industrial Strategy Response April 2017