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The erosion of manufacturing jobs

I shall never forget the capitulation in political support to manufacturing within the UK over the last two decades, and the silence on this subject is deafening.

This was epitomised at its worst in 2006 by Ian Pearson, former Labour MP of Dudley South (West Midlands) and Minister of Trade of Industry at the time, who recommended to an audience of Midlands businessmen, that they should give in to the pressures from the Far East and in his words ‘go east and seek your manufacturing support in India and China’. This Government policy has eroded too much from the industry’s enthusiasm and endeavours.

During the last decade we have lost approximately 4 million jobs in the manufacturing sector and the blame for this considerable decline lies at the feet of inadequate political support.

Manufacturers, as employers, have been the target for an inordinate amount of bureaucracy, particularly over the last five years and the majority of this, with the exception of taxation, has emanated from Brussels.

I have personally heard Mr David Cameron state that businesses have suffered too much with over regulation and it will give me some encouragement, when I see this strangulating process start to recede.

If the Government is serious about providing support to us, then it should provide substantial tax incentives which encourage investment in ways to improve our performance.

This process can take many forms, but investment in machinery, technology and research is not easy, particularly when coming out of one of the worst recessions in living memory and this perhaps where the Government should focus its attention.

It would also be an interesting exercise to examine what indirect support our European competitors receive from their respective Governments.

If we are to compete with them, then we must have at least the same, or better operating conditions.

Mr David Cameron has publically stated that he understand some of the problems that we manufacturers face, particularly with regards to regulation and I have not heard better support from any other political party, however, I implore him to seek the assistance of someone who not only understands manufacturing, but also who has our interests at heart.

This cannot, on past form, be a Politician.

John Whitehouse is Chairman at Weatherite Group.