East of England: CBI hosts regional debate on industrial policy

LEADING figures from businesses across the East of England have met to lay down plans for the future industrial policy of UK plc.

The event, led by CBI East of England, focused on a strategy for rebalancing the UK economy in favour of investment and trade and heard from representatives from companies including Adnams, Caterpillar, Ford and GlaxoSmithKline.

“There is a clear indication that it is the right time to re-examine the role of industrial policy,” said Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England director for the CBI.

“It is vital in delivering investment, jobs and growth across our region and the whole of the UK. We have to be able to compete internationally and with fiscal conditions still very tight, we have to be selective for example with how and when the government intervenes.”

The meeting was part of a national review of the UK’s industrial policy which is being led by the CBI, with its head of enterprise and innovation, Tim Bradshaw, attending a series of events to meet regional business leaders.

“It is time to think again about industrial policy,” Dr Bradshaw told delegates at the East of England event, held in Cambridge. “A laissez faire approach to markets and sectors in the UK has created economic expansion that it too dependent on household consumption and government spending. This has caused the country to miss out on the benefits of sustainable growth linked to production.”

The event heard how nations such as Singapore and South Korea are setting a standard with proactive approaches to industrial policy which the CBI says includes “can do” attitudes from government working with business, regional hubs and stronger focus on exports.

Most Read

“In the East of England there is a wealth of knowledge and wealth of experience of what industry need to do,” added Mr Tunnicliffe.

“Our members shared the need for real leadership to be shown in industry and in government. There needs to be an industrial strategy that involves all in government and we should not be shy about revolutionary and radical thinking to realign the nation’s industrial policy.”

The CBI will present the Government with recommendations in the autumn.