Food bosses have backed calls for cross-party action to address the key challenges facing UK manufacturing, including a shake-up of the Apprencticeship Levy and measures to tackle post-Brexit workforce shortages.
The so-called Manufacturing Five (M5) group of trade bodies, representing a combined turnover of £309bn, today published a new “manifesto for growth”, which it said proposed measures necessary to close the gap on the UK’s economic rivals.
The manifesto calls for policies to create a more modern workforce and to encourage innovation, and moves to incentivise investment in a sustainable future.
As well as greater flexibility for the controversial Apprecticeship Levy, the manifesto calls for more investment in workforce training and what it calls a “global competitive immigration system”, which allows the UK to attract international workers where domestic suppliers are facing shortages.
The farming, food manufacturing and hospitality industry have been among those bearing the brunt of what Karen Betts, CEO of the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), one of the organisations in M5, described as the “challenging headwinds” causing costs to rise rapidly in the industry.
The FDF has joined forces with bodies from the pharmaceutical, chemical, aerospace and motoring industries to produce the manifesto.
“Creating a long-term strategy to drive economic growth and attract investment in advanced manufacturing is critical to the health of the UK economy, which needs manufacturing to thrive,” said Betts.
“Driving growth and increasing investment to strengthen the UK’s food security is a priority for food and drink manufacturers, alongside accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in resource efficiency and turbocharging our exports.
“The government must deliver an internationally competitive business environment to drive investment, boost productivity and support a secure and sustainable food system.”