UK Manufacturing – from strength to strength?

We’ve all heard the opinion banded about in the context of UK manufacturing: “We don’t make anything here any more”. But according to a recent report from Make UK, in 2021 (the most recently available data) the UK moved up to 8th place in the list of the World’s leading manufacturers by value of output, at £224bn. 

Within that top ten, powerhouses China, the US, Japan and Germany remain streets ahead of the others, whilst the UK sits a shade ahead of France, and the gap between the UK and Italy (in 7th) has gradually reduced over the last 5 years. 

So something must be coming out of those factories!

UK manufacturing therefore appears well-placed on the world stage for the time being. But going forward in a changing economic environment, what can help it continue to thrive?

The Advanced Manufacturing Plan

Advanced manufacturing has been defined as ‘production processes that integrate advanced science and technology, including digital and automation, to manufacturing’. 

In November 2023, hot on the heels of the Autumn Statement, the Department for Business and Trade released its 47-page Advanced Manufacturing Plan, designed to underpin the stated ambition of the DfBT for ‘The UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a manufacturing business’. 

The full plan is well worth a read and can be found at Advanced manufacturing plan.

What are the key extracts of the plan?

The objectives of the plan have been set out in three key areas:

Investment in the long-term future of manufacturing

£4.5bn of funding over 5 years from 2025 has been made available in support of what the Government deems to be strategic manufacturing sectors – specifically the Aerospace, Automotive, Connected Automated Mobility, Life Sciences, and Green Manufacturing (carbon capture, utilisation and storage, hydrogen, electricity networks and offshore wind) sectors.

International cooperation and supply chain resilience

The document sets out plans to secure critical manufacturing supply chains via the pursuit and agreement of partnerships with key international allies, whilst boosting domestic capabilities and strengths.

Reduction of costs and removal of barriers to boost competitiveness

“Continuing to improve the UK’s business environment” is a statement that may raise a quizzical eyebrow or two. 

Measures stated in support of this process include making full expensing permanent, announcement of five new advanced manufacturing investment zones (South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, East Midlands, West Midlands and North East) and other plans designed to improve connections to the electricity grid and the speeding up of building of new transmission network infrastructure.

Something for everyone?

Without question, the headline news from the plan is the availability of the £4.5bn funding, however, this has been allocated to a handful of quite specific sectors. 

Naturally, the supply chains of businesses in these sectors will include businesses from many others, so there will be a trickle effect. 

More pertinently, the sections of the plan that deal with enhancements to infrastructure should result in benefits that can be enjoyed by all.

Made Smarter

The expansion of ‘Made Smarter’ was announced in both The Advanced Manufacturing Plan and the Autumn Statement with a view to expanding it across England in 2025 and UK wide from 2026. 

Made Smarter is not new, having been announced back in 2017, but the expansion of its roll out will enable access to it for a wider pool of manufacturers. 

The primary purposes of the body are to grow manufacturing via digital technologies, innovation and skills – thus facilitating the next generation of advanced manufacturing businesses.

Do you have a question for our manufacturing team?

Further detail is bound to emerge on the Advanced Manufacturing plan going forward which we will look to explore further in future insights.

If you have a question about your manufacturing business, please contact our team by filling in the form below.