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Manufacturers ask new chancellor Rishi Sunak for help in budget

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
British factory workers. (PA)

Britain’s manufacturing industry wants more support from new chancellor Rishi Sunak in the upcoming budget.

Make UK, the manufacturing lobby group, on Tuesday called for the government to increase investment allowances for manufacturers, increase research and development credits, and help to lower energy costs for factories.

“The new government has an instant opportunity to provide a triple boost to investment and help reduce business costs,” Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said in a statement.

“This will help turbo charge the economy at a time in the economy needs it and help deliver regional rebalancing and faster growth.”

The UK’s manufacturing sector endured nine straight months of decline last year, as Brexit uncertainty weighed heavily on the sector.

While conditions have improved since the turn of the year, manufacturers still face challenges navigating the new world of post-Brexit trade.

Read more: UK factories recover but warn coronavirus hitting supplies of parts

Factories also face a short-term hit from the coronavirus epidemic, which has disrupted some supply chains.

Make UK’s wish list was based on a snap survey of members, ahead of the group’s annual conference in London on Tuesday. The group represents around 20,000 manufacturing bodies across the UK.

Phipson said support from the government in next month’s Budget would help meet the government’s goal of boosting productivity and help boost regional growth.

“Low levels of private sector investment and poor productivity have been the achilles heel of the UK economy for decades,” he said.

“One reason for this is the poor level of capital allowances compared to other countries, coupled with the inclusion of capital investment in the calculation of business rates.

“Both of these act as a disincentive for manufacturers to invest and are a factor disproportionately impacting on companies in the Midlands and North where industry has a high exposure.”

New chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was sensationally promoted to the job two weeks ago, will deliver his first budget on 11 March. Economists and political analysts are expecting a big boost in government spending.