A Sign of Competitiveness

Mark Sandford - May 2011
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A country's competitiveness can be illustrated not just by its fiscal regime but also by how it attracts inward investment from overseas. In this context, the recent announcement by General Motors Europe that its plant at Luton will be assembling the next version of the Vauxhall Vivaro van represents a success for the United Kingdom, as well as safeguarding well over 1000 jobs. At present, the plant manufactures the Trafic version under contract from Renault but this was due to end in 2013 with production being switched to Sandouville in France. This is also welcome news for commercial vehicle production in the United Kingdom which is now steadily recovering after the recession.

There is no substitute in terms of generating real wealth than winning new investment and creating new manufacturing jobs. To his credit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did recognise the importance of the manufacturing sector with new funds earmarked for investment in science. He has also cut the rate of Corporation Tax which most people would welcome. Skills also make a difference as well and the government has realised the need to provide more assistance for apprenticeships across industry.

It is not just tax incentives that can make or break a decision to put money into the UK rather than elsewhere. The cost of employing a person has to be competitive versus the rest of the world and infrastructure must be maintained too. There is nothing more that would inhibit manufacturing growth than inability to freight goods across the country either by road or rail. We should also acknowledge that we do have the core engineering skills in this country, but they must still be nurtured.

Continuing the motor industry theme, Jaguar Land Rover has also announced that it will be creating over 1000 jobs in the West Midlands region. This is another success for the area and represents another victory for the UK as well as an upturn in fortunes for the company. There is just no substitute for this and most individuals should realise that each job created in the manufacturing sector will lead to more jobs in the service sector.

If we desire to cut unemployment in this country and keep it down, then a business climate must be created that attracts inward investment. The nation can still thrive, given the correct mix of incentives. The government has to act on this and provide assistance where necessary to do so. Neither should this be an issue of party political dogma. Everyone accepts that the State can only do so much, but it is better be doing something positive than nothing at all. ( See www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news or www.careers.guardian.co.uk/engineering )

Mark Sandford - Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if attributed to Mark Sandford, unedited and copied in full, including this notice.

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