Welcome boost for industry in PBR
Industrialists have some reason to cheer after today’s publication of the Pre-Budget Report.
The PBR contained an additional £200m for the Strategic Investment Fund, the body set up in this year’s Budget to support the ‘New Industry, New Jobs’ initiative.
Only £100m of this is new money, so a word of caution is necessary. If the other £100m has been redirected, we need to see where it has been redirected from before giving a hearty welcome. What’s more, £200m is hardly a King’s Ransom. Nevertheless, there had been no indication of more money to follow the initial £750m allocated to the Strategic Investment Fund in April, so some money is better than no money.
£150m of this cash will go towards low carbon projects and will form part of £400m over the next two years to support green growth. Among the projects supported in this wider initiative, £50m will be invested in the development of the UK offshore wind industry, £40m in low carbon technologies and £30m in green transport projects.
Industry policy is clearly going in the right direction. Green technology will be a crucial part of the manufacturing sector of the future, so it is vital that Government prioritises it now. Of course, green industries are not confined to overtly environmental technologies, such as the building of wind turbines. Ensuring that our automotive and aerospace industries are able to build greener cars and aircraft must be central to future industrial support.
Tucked away in the full Pre-Budget Report is the announcement that later this month, the Government will publish a Policy through Procurement Action Plan, which will demonstrate how the Government will use procurement to deliver policy priorities around apprenticeships, skills and youth unemployment, SMEs and low carbon resource efficiency to stimulate economic growth. This is a major victory for a very long trade union campaign for exactly such a procurement policy. I will wait to see the wording of the Action Plan before giving it a full welcome, but today’s announcement is important news.