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Black Country Entrepreneur Calls on Midlands Manufacturers to Seize Control of their Future

Paul CadmanIn response to the recent news that falling domestic demand has been blamed for the first fall in UK manufacturing output in more than three years, Paul Cadman, one of The Manufacturer’s 2015 Top 100 most influential people in manufacturing and as Group MD of the Futura Group, winner of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Manufacturer of the Year Award 2015 said: “We cannot rely on a domestic market driven by consumer debt. The situation is exacerbated by next month’s EU referendum and the continuing decline in the oil & gas sector.

“Declining export performance does not help and an inability for government to put together a value focused, innovative export strategy for UK manufacturing will end up debilitating what should be ‘the march of the maker’s’ across the world.

“Our own Black Country Business Indicator shows a jump in manufacturing sales both in the UK and abroad for the first quarter of 2016: a rise of 34 points for UK sales and 24 points for export sales. Service sector sales in the UK have dropped 2 but export sales have risen 4 points. National figures show a drop of 2% in the proportion of manufacturing companies who are reporting improved UK sales. In the Black Country, 11% more manufacturers are reporting improved UK sales compared to the last quarter of 2015. Nationally service sector figures show a drop of 6% in the proportion reporting improved UK sales. In the Black Country this drop was only 2% compared to last quarter. Nationally the proportion of manufacturers who are reporting a growth in export sales over the last three months is up by 7% and the proportion of service sector companies reporting a growth in exports sales has gone down 2%. In the Black Country the proportions have gone up 24% for manufacturing and 4% for the service sector for the same period.

“We are once again outperforming the UK and it is our manufacturers that are leading the way.

“The EEF have recently reported that misgivings about the apprenticeship levy were so strong that just 1% of manufacturers supported the levy's roll out in its present guise, with the majority believing the scheme looks set to fail. Almost three quarters (72%) of manufacturers want the scheme redesigned so it is fit for purpose. 70% of firms are in favour of increasing the number of apprenticeships available, but just 18% of firms believe the apprenticeship levy is the mechanism for achieving this. The EEF has described the apprenticeship levy as ‘looming car crash’

“There are too many public sector agencies claiming to understand and represent businesses. They do not. Proposing a digital interface to provide businesses with the information they require to grow or to export is ludicrous. Government needs to stop assuming that listening to the small number of very large businesses who have their ear means they hear the true voice of business. Whilst the private sector relies on face to face activity and the building of long term trusted relationships to conduct its business, the public sector is venturing into a space where the private sector will not follow.

“I intend to meet with my fellow members across the Midlands Chambers to create a manifesto for manufacturing. I pledge to speak to partners and those supposedly representing us to ensure that they are following a business lead and not a political one. The Midlands Engine for Growth should be led by the FSB, IoD, CBI, EEF and Chambers of Commerce along with Made in the Midlands, the banks and other specialists who understand the needs of the region. With the developments that Midlands Connect promises we will have the centre for manufacturing in the world and the means by which we can influence policy. I am making this my personal mission.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 09:09

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