Over the past four years the ERA Foundation has conducted a number of studies under the general heading of “The Sustainability of the UK Economy in an Era of Declining Productive Capability”. Our first report, published in June 2008, looked at the serious deterioration in the Balance of Trade over the past decade, in large measure resulting from excessive imports and declining exports of finished manufactured goods. Our second report, published in February 2009, looked at the make-up of the nation’s current account and within this the contribution of manufacturing. Our third report looked at the location of manufacturing capability and the impact of services. In our 4th report, published in February 2010, we identified the factors which needed to be optimised to enable productive industry to flourish in the UK.
We have concluded that there is no viable alternative but to rebuild a strong manufacturing capability in the UK. The concept that the UK economy can flourish with an almost total dependence on financial and business services has proved to be flawed. During the past 15 years manufacturing has been allowed to decline from over 20% to its current 13% of GDP with a disastrous effect on our Balance of Trade. The mantra that the UK is a post industrial society has encouraged the underinvestment in manufacturing
industry and discouraged a generation from choosing an industrial career.
The ERA Foundation remains committed to promoting the importance of manufacturing to Government, policy makers, funders, opinion formers, professional organisations, “think tanks”, the press and others. We therefore welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Government’s recent consultation on a manufacturing framework – see http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/g/10-1297-growth-review-framework-for-advanced-manufacturing.
We decided to share our input to the Government with those with whom we have been working over the past four years in promoting the importance of UK manufacturing. Thus we have incorporated all of it here within our 5th Report, which builds on our 4th Report but adds new information. We are grateful to colleagues in Civitas, C V Simpson Associates, IET, RAEng, IMechE, Policy Connect, Oxford Innovation, and others who have been so willing to share information with us in our campaign.