Last edited 12 Dec 2020

Building our Industrial Strategy: green paper

On 23 January 2017, the government published; Building our Industrial Strategy: green paper for consultation.

Building our Industrial Strategy.jpg

The green paper sets out proposals for a modern industrial strategy intended to ‘…build on Britain’s strengths and tackle its underlying weaknesses to secure a future as a competitive, global nation’. It targets new investments in infrastructure and research to drive prosperity, and create more high-skilled, high-paid jobs and opportunities.

The green paper proposes new ‘sector deals’ to address sector-specific challenges and opportunities, such as; addressing regulatory barriers, using trade and investment deals to increase exports, and the creation of new institutions to provide leadership, support innovation and boost skills.

Prime Minister Theresa May said; “The Modern Industrial Strategy will back Britain for the long term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country.”

Business & Energy Secretary Greg Clark said; “A modern British Industrial Strategy must - build on the UK’s strengths and extend excellence into the future; close the gap between the the UK’s most productive companies, industries, places and people and the rest; and ensure we are one of the most competitive places in the world to start and grow a business… We are inviting businesses and workers to contribute to this vision to help us create a high-skilled economy where every place can meet its potential."

The green paper sets out ten strategic pillars to underpin this approach:

  1. Investing in science, research and innovation.
  2. Developing skills.
  3. Upgrading infrastructure.
  4. Supporting businesses to start and grow.
  5. Improving procurement.
  6. Encouraging trade and inward investment policy.
  7. Delivering affordable energy and clean growth.
  8. Cultivating world-leading sectors.
  9. Driving growth across the whole country.
  10. Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

It says little about construction, other than referring to the 'balanced scorecard' approach developed by the Cabinet Office for projects over £10 million, to ensure the impact of procurement on the growth of small business and supply chains, skills and apprenticeships is taken into account when considering the value for money of different bids.

However, the green paper does recognise the importance of infrastructure investment, suggesting, ‘We must upgrade our standards of performance on digital, energy, transport, water and flood defence infrastructure, and better align central government infrastructure investment with local growth priorities.’

It poses a series of questions for consultation, intended to complement the work of the National Infrastructure Commission in producing its National Infrastructure Assessment:

The consultation closed on 17 April 2017.

Commenting on the green paper, Julia Evans, BSRIA Chief Executive, said: “The Prime Minister has included energy in a bid to align central government infrastructure investment with local growth priorities which is seen as good news by BSRIA, members and industry alike. Her promise to ‘take action’ for British Industry by unveiling a new, more interventionist, industrial strategy is also positive.

"It is especially heartening to hear that the Prime Minister also aims to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills, digital skills and numeracy, including extending specialist maths schools, with £170m being invested in creating a new string of Institutes of Technology in England and Wales, taking students from age 16 to 19, also known as ‘buildersuniversities’. The UK has some of the best universities in the world but students and the ‘workforce of tomorrow’ have had fewer alternatives to learn practical skills. Clearly, engineering, technical and hands-on skills are crucial for our industry to address the ever increasing skills shortage. And build the houses the country needs."

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee said the strategy: “lacks the framework for future decision-making which could be the core of a long-term strategy”. Committee chair Iain Wright said: “The government must be bold, ambitious and visionary in developing their industrial strategy to ensure the sectoral and regional balancing to which it rightly aspires is achieved”.

Following the consultation process, the white paper, Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future, was published on 27 November 2017.

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