From the top · 23 January 2017

Industrial strategy: Theresa May unveils ten-point plan to grow economy

Industrial strategy
One of Theresa May’s first acts as prime minister was the creation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy, suggesting a new direction for government policy

Prime minister Theresa May has announced a ten-point plan that will form the basis of the government’s industrial strategy, targeting regional inequalities and regulatory barriers to support the growth of small businesses across the UK.

The plan sets out the government’s commitment to improving digital and transport infrastructure, procurement opportunities for small firms and affordable energy.

May said that the strategy will “align central government infrastructure investment with local growth priorities”, suggesting a specific commitment to supporting regional enterprise.

The government’s ten-point plan contains the following pledges:

  • Investing in science, research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading infrastructure
  • Supporting business to start and grow
  • Improving government procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

Alongside the pledges, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has opened a public consultation to gain the views of “businesses of every size”.

Speaking to the BBC, business secretary Greg Clark said that the consultation would inform “[government] priorities for a long-term industrial strategy”.

Responding to the pledges, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), welcomed specific targeting of low productivity levels and regional inequalities.

“A modern industrial strategy will be a landmark opportunity to build a successful, modern economy as the foundation for a prosperous, fairer and more inclusive society,” she said in a statement.

“Our members across every region and nation of the UK will have a fundamental role to play to help shape the thinking and – most importantly – deliver the impact we all want to see.”

The announcement of the “ten pillars” is to be followed by a green paper to add further detail to the industrial strategy.

Within the green paper, May is expected to appoint small business minister Margot James as the UK’s new “scale-up champion” – a role designed to help turn high-growth startups into successful international companies.

The appointment follows claims made in September 2016 by leading fund manager Neil Woodford that the UK was failing to provide entrepreneurs with the long-term capital needed to become competitive on a global level.

Want to read more? Have a look at how Britain’s tech leaders called on Theresa May to guarantee a future for startups.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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