Call for Minister of Manufacturing

The UK would benefit from a Minister for Manufacturing to recognise the strategic importance of this vital sector, according to the head of manufacturing at national, audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe.

Johnathan Dudley of Crowe
Johnathan Dudley of Crowe

Johnathan Dudley, who is also managing partner of the firm’s Midlands office in Oldbury at the heart of UK manufacturing, said the post should be at senior Cabinet level to recognise the critical contribution manufacturing makes to the UK economy.

He said: “A dedicated minister would be well placed to target the previously unsupported plight of manufacturers in terms of frightening energy costs, supply chain issues around spiralling costs and unavailability of certain raw materials.

“Working to create a strategy to support our manufacturing sector, to add value by solving the problems of our world, both today and in the future while meeting the Levelling Up and Regeneration objectives at the same time.

“What’s more, it would help to solve our transport issues and contribute to solving the energy crisis while delivering on our net zero commitments made at the COP summit, just last year.

The percentage of GDP controlled by the manufacturing sector is often billed as limited, usually between 10 and 12 per cent, but Mr Dudley points out that this radiates into other sectors too.

“For every original equipment manufacturing job, there are 10 others in the supply chain, and these well paid jobs must surely provide support in other sectors such as retail, real estate, business and professional services, agriculture and others maybe?

“As an island we are short on natural resources but have a wealth of talent and a reputation for high-value add," he explained.

Mr Dudley said there was a recognised need for world-beating innovation in energy generation, transport, efficient food production, carbon offset and other global issues that have not been solved yet.

He added that UK technology was responsible for arguably the best aero engines in the world, and Great Britain was leading in designing the best ‘next generation’ small nuclear reactors too.

“We have the best aircraft carrier design, and we still build “the best 4x4… by far” – according to the advertising.

“Other areas where our innovators lead include ground-breaking LED driver technology, and the best designs for consumer goods, from handbags and clothes design, to vacuum cleaners.

“We also produce the best diggers, soon to be powered by hydrogen internal combustion engines; world beating innovation, being conceived designed and produced right here, right now," said Mr Dudley, who points out that major infrastructure projects in the UK, already emerging from the ground, will require UK-based engineering and manufacturing capability and a secure supply chain to deliver results in a manner that still achieves net zero targets and within budget.

These include major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point and the various regional rail and road improvement network developments.

Mr Dudley stressed: “The Chancellor is basing our Covid recovery on an export and innovation-led economy.

“A Manufacturing Minister should arguably be a cabinet post, to be strategic and drive an agenda where we are not reliant on rogue nations for power or semi-conductors and for rolling stock."

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