Industrial Strategy for the UK

Industrial Strategy for the UK

Note: The Forum is neutral in regard to party politics. Policies are of interest though in terms of their effects on long-term sustainability in this area.

Though ‘drowned out’ by more popular news, a potentially important document was released yesterday by the UK Government:

Policy paper: “Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future” (download)
From: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Published: 27 November 2017; 254 pages
Highly illustrated. Table of chapters, references and list of figures.
Available in assistive / accessible format.
Overview: “We will create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK.”

The scope is explicitly the whole of the United Kingdom, though the report uses the title “Britain” interchangeably with that as in “British enterprise – with the full involvement of [people] in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

The main themes (called “foundations”) are declared as being: economy, jobs and earning power, physical infrastructure, business start-ups and growth, and communities. These are stated to align witha vision for a “transformed economy”.

There are also “Grand Challenges” including that of “Clean Growth: We will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth”.

The parts of the economy to be promoted by government include research & development, technical education, charging structure for electric vehicles, productivity in the life sciences, construction, artificial
intelligence and the automotive sector and the development of local industrial strategies.

Here are some of the many features of the Strategy, in relation to our Forum’s current 8 themes:

Buildings: “Construction is currently expensive and too many buildings waste energy. We need to transform construction so that we can create affordable places to live and work that are, safer, healthier and use less energy.” (page 74)
Economy: “… establishing a network of ‘Catapult centres’ to commercialise new and emerging technologies.” (page 82)
Education: “… knowledge-based interactions between universities and colleges and the wider world … to respond to business needs and to local opportunities.” (page 81)
Energy: “Smart systems can link energy supply, storage and use, and join up power, heating and transport to increase efficiency dramatically. … we can cut bills while creating high value
jobs for the future.” (page 74)
Biodiversity: not mentioned.
Environment: “… we will deliver benefits to farmers, the environment and consumers whilst driving growth, jobs and exports.” (page 75); (re artificial intelligence) “… we have a lead in understanding the interaction between genes and environment.” (page 33); impacts of building projects, (page 197) – otherwise, “environment is used figuratively, as in “business environment”.
Food: “… demand for water is expected to rise by 20 per cent in the agriculture sector alone. For this to be possible, the way we produce our food needs to be significantly more efficient and sustainable. … transform food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.” (page 75)
General: Resilience to climate change is mentioned several times, as is energy from renewable sources. These are viewed as providing business opporunities, through a fast move away from reliance on fossil fuels. (page 74)

Comment: This report is framed as visionary policy-making rather than joined-up thinking, so it does not acknowledge contradictions, unintended consequences and turns of events. All the same there’s a certain honesty about the constraints and lack of economic leeway. Currently that would apply to whichever party was nominally in power.

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