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APPG presses the case for manufacturing growth in Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire met with Business Minister Michael Fallon this week, as well as Shadow Minister Iain Wright, to press the region’s economic case for manufacturing growth.

On the eve of yesterday’s Budget, the Group heard evidence from a wide range of businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Councillors from across the region, who pressed MPs on the measures needed to recognise Yorkshire and Humber once again as a Global centre for manufacturing growth and expertise.

Andrew Percy MP, Co-Chair of the Group said:

“The All Party Group provides exactly the right forum for setting out our case for growth to Ministers and other decision-makers in Whitehall – on a cross-Party basis, in partnership with industry, and in a way that supports the whole region

“From our discussion it’s clear that there’s a great deal of consensus on the need to grow manufacturing, across the Coalition and Opposition – but it’s vital that we work through the APPG to make sure Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire’ firms are able to give Government a ‘reality check’, so they know how policies are really impacting locally.”

Barry Sheerman MP, Co-Chair of the Group said:

“It’s clear that there is a huge amount of great work taking place across Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire to grow our manufacturing base and promote the sector as a really positive career choice for young people.

“We need to do more to promote what our firms, Chambers of Commerce, LEPs and local authorities are doing – from York Potash’s commitment to engineering apprenticeships and Leeds City Region’s Apprenticeship Agency, to unlocking the opportunities presented by Global Manufacturing Festival run each year out of the Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Sheffield City Region.”

MPs heard how the manufacturing sector remains critical to the region’s local economies – employing over 12% of our workforce, more than the national average. Sheffield City Region alone contains around 4,000 manufacturing firms, generating around £3.5bn to the economy.

Members of the Group pressed the Minister and Shadow Minister to devolve more money and powers to local partnerships, so that valuable funding can make the biggest different for local people and businesses. In particular, the case for improving the way that schools, teachers, pupils and parents understand and champion advanced manufacturing as excellent career choices was emphasised.

Business voices at the meeting included: Huddersfield-based David Brown Gear Systems a global leader in industrial gears, with centres in Australia, Chile and Indonesia; Bluebird Vehicles, based in Scarborough and the UK’s leading manufacturer of accessible coaches; Stourton-based Siemens Mechanical Drives, who are leading the way in wind and wave power manufacturing; and Leeds wireless technology firm, Radio Design, which also has bases in Finland and China.

The meeting also brought together a number of local council leaders. Cllr Mehboob Khan, Leader of Kirklees Council, for example, highlighted the particular problems and confusion caused by the system of 32 separate organisation involved in providing advice to 14 to 19 year olds on their education and career options.

Cllr Mehboob Khan, Leader of Kirklees Council and Chair of Local Government Yorkshire and Humber said:

“Bringing people together from across different political parties, Local Authorities and industry will be key to boosting growth and manufacturing in Yorkshire and Humber, and the successful APPG meetings show that we are united in our commitment to the region. Regions like Yorkshire and Humber will be instrumental in driving growth not only locally but for the country as a whole and we will continue to work with our MPs and Government to ensure a fair deal for our communities and local people.

“Local Authorities are united in their commitment to work together across political party and geographic boundaries, along with our local businesses to ensure that our communities grow and prosper.”

Cllr Derek Bastiman, Deputy Leader of Scarborough Borough Council said:

“Yorkshire, Humber and Northern Lincolnshire has over 100 miles of coast line, including various sized ports, and are a significant contributor to the economy of Yorkshire and Humber. The APPG is focused on promoting growth and enhancing the possibilities of the region. The renewable energy sector, as well as the export potential provided by the ports, are instrumental to the economy of not only Yorkshire and Humber but to the North as a whole. Through joint working the APPG is committed to ensuring that all parts of the region, and all our industries are encouraged and supported to contribute to the economic growth agenda.”

Other critical points raised included the need for more effective Government procurement to support UK manufacturing; improving businesses’ access to finance; improving the specific support needed by firms to break in to overseas markets; as well as the need for a long-term UK manufacturing strategy that can withstand future Government changes and give businesses the stability they need – avoiding the range of ad-hoc and short-term initiatives that risk firms getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

Some specific concerns were voiced about the Regional Growth Fund’s bureaucracy causing firms to turn away from it; and also about the particular need for greater stability in the area of energy and renewables.

Following the meeting the Group will now be putting its case to Ministers for tackling the barriers to manufacturing growth and providing the long-term stability the sector needs to thrive.

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