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From planes, trains and automobiles to whisky, pharmaceuticals and light bulbs, the rich and diverse nature of the UK manufacturing industry is the foundation of a balanced and robust economy. The CBI works with business and government to support these industries to ensure that they continue to do what Britain does best: making things.

Top priorities

  • Industrial Strategy – In the CBI response to the government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper, the CBI calls on the Government to set out a clear mission to make the UK economy more open, innovative and inclusive and, as a result, the most competitive in the world by 2030. The CBI believes that a modern Industrial Strategy with a clear sense of purpose will improve living standards and raise productivity. It should aim to reduce the productivity gap between the worst and best-performing regions by 15 percentage points by 2030. For more information, see our full response.
  • The 4th industrial revolution – More than just a fashionable phrase, the 4th Industrial Revolution describes the next chapter for industry. It collectively describes technologies such as Internet of Things, Internet of Services and Big Data that will fundamentally change how manufacturing works and improve productivity and efficiency on the shop floor.
  • Future of the industry – UK Manufacturing has been in a structural decline for the last 25 years: Manufacturing accounted for 15.8% of the economy in 1990, and has now fallen by a third to 9.6%. Preventing the sector from further decline is a key priority for us.

Policy issues affecting the industry

  • Brexit – The biggest challenges that manufacturers will face in a post-Brexit world will be in supply chains, labour skills and movement, technology and innovation. The potential impact of Brexit could be hugely disruptive to manufacturers’ business models and trading as well as their regulatory and business environment.
  • Exports – Manufacturing outperforms every other sector in exports: it accounts for 45% of UK exports, 57.5% of which to the EU, and it and therefore the question of trade is of utmost importance to it. Manufacturers are part of complex integrated supply chains that extend across the EU, for example 60% of parts supplied for cars built in the UK are imported, mainly from the Europe. The possible implementation of tariffs between the EU Single Market and the UK, this has the potential to hugely increase costs for manufacturers. For example, food manufacturers could face on average EU tariff of 22.3% against 2.3% for non-food products.
  • Shaping the innovation landscape – With new technology offering increased efficiency and productivity on the shop floor, innovation is a vital topic for manufacturers. It is primarily through R&D that EU funding will affect the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing alone accounted for 67% of UK R&D expenditure in 2014 and therefore is highly exposed to changes to funding schemes landscape.
  • Addressing the skills crisis – STEM skills are in crisis in the manufacturing sector - half of businesses (55%) are not confident of finding people with higher-level skills. We are currently focussed on lobbying to ensure that the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy works for the industry, as well as supporting the next generation of leaders.
    Energy intensive industries – UK electricity costs are among the highest globally – nearly 80% above the EU median. The CBI are vocal supporter for these industries, to ensure they get the support they need to meet the costs of energy policies, and that as the government considers its industrial strategy, a low carbon plan for these industries remains central.

How to get involved

  • Come to our events – As a member you’ll receive invites to exclusive events throughout the year with high profile speakers from business and politics such as the Future of UK Manufacturing Conference.
  • Get the latest intelligence – Access to insights from our manufacturing policy team and other businesses direct to your inbox by subscribing to our Manufacturing Update Newsletter.

To find out more about how CBI membership can benefit your business, fill out the form below.


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