Today the government launched the long awaited Industrial Strategy White Paper - setting out a plan to support British industry and manufacturing to stay competitive and get ahead in new sectors like digital and robotics. Responding to the announcement, Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley said:
“I welcome the announcement of this long awaited Industrial Strategy, and especially the fact the Government now recognise the state has a role to play in supporting industry and manufacturing. This is a step change from Cameron and Osborne’s record on steel and I hope this new commitment to proactive state intervention will continue. However, today’s white paper is bit thin and woolly, and far from a plan of action.
“It is crucial that this is more than just another ‘Northern Powerhouse’ branding exercise and helps to substantially rebalance the economy away from London and the South East. Investment must reach Teesside and not be sucked up by the core cities like Manchester and Leeds.
“The focus on developing new skills and retraining is very welcome and will help ensure our people are better equipped for jobs in newer industries. The devolution of the adult skills budget to our area in 2019 will mean we can make better decisions on where it is spent, rather than by civil servants in Whitehall. This local decision making needs to be a key part of the industrial strategy if it is to properly give our region power over our future.
“But upskilling is just one part of the challenge to modern workers, as we have seen with the rise of zero hour’s contracts and other insecure forms of employment at firms like Uber. The Government have responded to the Taylor Review into modern working practises with the creation of a new measure of ‘good work’. But if we are going to protect gig economy workers from exploitation and ensure everyone receives a basic standard of security and rights, we need to go much further.
“It is good to see the Tees Collective carbon capture and storage project recognised as one of the leading green growth initiatives. However, we need to see a stronger commitment to putting resources into CCS technology. This was absent from the Budget too and we urgently need to develop this if we are going to become one of the world’s first clean industrial areas and deliver thousands of jobs. The clock is ticking and I am worried the lack of substance from the government on this suggests they are not fully committed.
“A lot of the strategy focuses on new industries like digital, artificial intelligence and driverless cars which are important for future proofing the economy. However, we must not neglect longer established industries that still have an important role to play. Foundation industries like steel and chemicals appear to have been neglected and pushed down the order of priorities. Supporting one section of the economy cannot mean letting other sectors struggle and I hope this paper is just the start of a strategy involving all industries.
“From where we started out under the last Conservative Government, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction. The dire economic forecasts in the Budget last week are a warning that we must get this right if we are to boost the fortunes of British manufacturing and create jobs.”