UK manufacturers urge George Osborne to maintain spending on innovation

Manufacturers are warning George Osborne that Britain risks squandering years of investment in hi-tech research and business support if he cuts support for innovation at the spending review next week.

Against the backdrop of waning global demand and pressure on UK competitiveness from a strong pound, manufacturers’ organisation EEF says its members are worried that Osborne’s new round of austerity will add to their uncertain outlook. The chancellor unveils his comprehensive spending review on 25 November when he will set out tighter budgets for government departments, reports The Guardian.

Fearing that will mean less support for manufacturers, EEF echoes the business group CBI in demanding the government increases backing for Innovate UK, the body which supports business research and hi-tech development. The manufacturing lobby group also wants Osborne to ensure UKTI, the export support agency, gets adequate funding.

“Famine and feast is not good. We’ve got an ecosystem that manufacturers are starting to understand and the UK is becoming more competitive internationally,” said EEF chief economist Lee Hopley. “We are not looking for emergency measures, but a stable, predictable business environment.”

Publishing EEF’s submission to the Treasury before the spending review, the group’s chief executive Terry Scuoler said the government had built up a successful track record of helping businesses turn ideas into commercial successes. “While we recognise the difficult fiscal environment the government faces, reducing spending on innovation would harm efforts to improve productivity, which is the key to longer term economic stability,” he said.