The UK’s largest manufacturing exporter the chemical industry has backed the Government’s overall approach to the business agenda. Following the main Parliamentary speeches during the Spring Statement debate, the Chemical Industries Association which represents chemical and pharmaceutical businesses across the UK said the direction – as it relates to business - is broadly right.
Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association, said “Like everyone else of course there are parts of the Government approach we would want to change and to see get more emphasis, but on the broader business environment we think after many years the Government has got the message. Industrial Strategy , innovation support and a realisation that not all is right with the apprenticeship levy are welcome signals”.
He continued “Manufacturing, of which we are part, is on a good run at the moment as the Chancellor said, but in looking to the future we are full of uncertainty. That is why I have been calling for the Brexit negotiations to get started, so that some of the speculation – on both sides of the argument - will stop, and provide some clarity about the future. When that happens and if they are successful for the UK then I hope and believe we will see a growth in real long term commitment to our country”.
Elliott added “On matters that are in the Government’s control, while we all appreciate the importance of small businesses and it is good they will get a better deal on the apprenticeship levy, it is actually the big companies who are having to pay millions with little prospect of being able to invest all of what they pay in apprentice opportunities. We need to recognise this and we need fast action on the Dieter Helm Energy Cost Review recommendations so that businesses in the UK can at last benefit from what the Government said in its manifesto commitment, of delivering the most competitive costs in Europe, rather than paying 50% more than the EU average. But I think Government and for that matter Opposition recognise the challenges we face. While we and others welcomed the move to the UK having one fiscal event in the year with the abolition of the Autumn Statement, there are certain pressing matters where we could act before the 2018 Budget and I hope Government will do so”.
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• The chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds £18 billion of value to the UK economy every year from total annual turnover of £50 billion.
• In addition to gross value added, the sector also contributes to the UK economy in its position at the head of many supply chains within manufacturing and its employment of a well remunerated, high-skilled workforce. Chemical manufacturing adds £9 billion in gross value added annually and pharmaceutical manufacturing £9 billion.
• The wider chemical and pharmaceutical sector (manufacturing plus distribution) is the largest exporter of manufactured goods with annual exports of close to £50 billion. The export of motor vehicle, trailers and semi-trailers is the sector with next highest exports of £35 billion.
• BEIS publication showing comparison of energy costs https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/662858/table_541.xls
• 63% of companies in the sector export what they make to the world, the highest proportion of any goods manufacturing sector in the UK economy. 60% of our exports go to the European Union and 75% of our imports and raw materials come from the European Union.