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Commenting on Vince Cable’s industrial strategy speech, Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria
Chamber of Commerce says: “Vince Cable has listened to business’ plea for more long term thinking in policymaking. He’s set out some sensible steps that could help improve the business environment in the UK and make an important contribution to moving Britain toward a new model economy.
"A successful industrial strategy isn’t about picking winners or losers, but about creating the right environment for all businesses to thrive and letting the winners choose themselves.
"We’re told that under the “new industrial strategy” the Government will work with experts to identify the sectors to boost with access to funding, better skills and Government contracts, and that they’ll be publishing a report identifying the sectors (including technology, design and engineering) on which they believe Government can have a “real and early impact”. This is great news but we need to ensure that support is there for key sectors for Cumbria. It appears that there will be support for engineering/ specialist manufacturing – but we need to ensure that sectors such as food & drink don’t miss out.
"In his recent visit to us at our Made in Cumbria operation Vince Cable was impressed by the model we as a Chamber operate here in Cumbria to support businesses, and the mix of activities between the Chamber, Made in Cumbria and Kendal Tourist Information Centre. This is something we’re now following up on with him, at his request.
"While it was good to hear reiteration of support for the Business Bank, details are still to be announced. This must be more than just a vehicle for existing Government schemes. A brand new fully fledged business bank is needed to lend to new and growing businesses, many of which continue to report difficulty accessing the finance they need. Nothing less than a full service business bank will do and rebranding existing Government schemes and/or using existing banking infrastructure is not enough.
"Chambers have long said that the skills system is failing to meet the needs of British businesses, with resources following the choices of individual learners, rather than the needs of business. The £250m extension of the Employer Ownership pilot scheme announced today is an important step toward ensuring that funding delivers the training our businesses need to grow.
"While these announcements are good news for business, we do have a concern over their implementation. Too often through the life of this Government we have seen announcements which fail to materialise or to deliver the impact envisaged. The Government must ensure that we move from rhetoric to reality on key interventions to support business growth and that business confidence is boosted."