Frank Field MP announces five next steps to turbocharge manufacturing in Merseyside

20 Aug 2019
Frank Field MP today publishes details of the next stage of his campaign to help turbocharge Merseyside’s manufacturing industry and create thousands of new jobs, including:

- A major event in Birkenhead, in October, to link up local manufacturers with global export opportunities
- A ten-point programme for the Prime Minister, based on Frank’s consultation with local manufacturers, covering research and development, exports, skills, infrastructure, investment in factories and equipment, finance and governance, procurement, energy costs, renewable energy, and freeports
- A proposed ‘Buy British’ policy to apply to all new ships, trains, and other manufactured goods being procured by central and local government
- An approach to each of the main trade associations, asking manufacturers across the country to consider expanding their operations into Birkenhead and the surrounding areas
- A meeting with Peel Ports to compile a detailed proposal to the Government for a new freeport in Merseyside

Frank comments: ‘The wealth, independence, and security of our country are all intimately linked with the health of our manufacturing industry. In towns like Birkenhead, and regions like Merseyside, a healthy manufacturing industry brings with it opportunities for people to gain new skills, get and keep a job, earn high wages, and develop and make the innovative new products and services that our country needs to pay its way in the world and to defend itself.

‘However, for far too many people in our town, and across our region, such opportunities have been restricted in recent decades – nationally, four million jobs have been lost in manufacturing. We desperately need a new deal from the government to support manufacturing and increase the numbers of jobs within this vital industry.

‘During my recent discussions with local manufacturers, I’ve begun linking them up with the support that already exists, such as Made Smarter funding, and seeking their views on what additional help is required. Today marks the beginning of stage two.’

Among the reforms Frank recommends to the Prime Minister, are:

- A commitment to raise research and development expenditure to 2% of national income, which would take us above the EU average of 1.9%, and linking this increase with a target to move the UK gradually towards 10,000 patents being granted each year
- Granting Merseyside a new freeport with the specific aim of expanding our manufacturing base
- A long-term guarantee of funding for local universities’ LCR 4.0 initiative and, in return, requiring it to offer all manufacturing firms in the region support from, and formal contact with, one of their departments which is best placed to meet their needs (ranging from marketing to engineering, for example)
- An Exporters’ Tax Credit to incentivise small and medium sized manufacturers to increase their net exports
- A Retrainers’ Tax Credit and greater flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy to help workers gain new formal qualifications
- Urgent investment in High Speed Rail which links Merseyside with Tyneside, via Manchester, Leeds, and Hull
- A new package of incentives for firms to make continuous investments in their factories and equipment
- A German-style role for local chambers of commerce in providing guaranteed minimum service levels to manufacturers
- A duty for the Government’s Industrial Policy Council to publish an annual audit of British manufacturing, with a series of recommendations for strengthening industrial policy and creating more jobs in manufacturing
- A tax reduction on dividends from longer term shareholding in manufacturing firms, stronger voting rights for shareholders who are longer-term investors, and a requirement for banks to lend more than a certain proportion of their money to productive manufacturers, to help smaller firms
- A major increase in the number of manufacturers supported by credit and loan guarantees
- Bringing electricity prices for heavy industry in this country into line with those borne in other European countries
- Helping manufacturers research and develop carbon capture and storage technologies, as part of a quick transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy, and increase employment in the manufacturing of goods that improve energy efficiency and of goods used to produce and store renewable energy

Frank has written separately to the Ministry of Defence asking it to lend greater weight, when awarding shipbuilding contracts, to the social and economic benefits of placing orders with domestic yards like Cammell Laird. He has also applied for a debate in the House of Commons, once it returns from recess, on Merseyside’s manufacturing industry.