Keeping energy costs low for businesses while securing the economic benefits of transitioning to a low carbon economy will form one of the central tenets of the government’s industrial strategy, expected to be published in full today (23 January 2017).
Prime minister Theresa May will use her first regional cabinet meeting in the north west to launch the proposals which will include new ‘sector deals’ and investment in research and development for specific industries.
The strategy green paper will set out a number of key objectives for the government moving forward, including delivering affordable energy and clean growth to UK businesses. Another will see the government put additional resources into upgrading the country’s digital, energy and utility infrastructure as well as supporting smart energy technologies.
The strategy green paper will set out how as part of the new sector deals government will be prepared to offer a range of support, including addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth, looking at how to use trade and investment deals to increase exports, or supporting the creation of new institutions to provide leadership, support innovation or boost skills.
This new approach contrasts with the vision of a UK industrial strategy set out by May at the Conservative Party conference in October, where the PM said: “It’s not about picking winners.”
Speaking ahead of the full launch of the strategy, May said: “The Modern Industrial Strategy will back Britain for the long term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country.
“It will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.”
ULEVs remain “at the heart” of industrial strategy
One winner already chosen by government is the ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEVS) sector, which was trailed by business secretary Greg Clark in recent months after he said electric vehicles would be “at the heart” of the UK’s new approach.
ULEVs have already been named as one of the early sector deals to have been welcomed by government following work by Richard Parry-Jones, a former group vice president at Ford. He also chaired the new Automotive Innovation and Growth Team at the former Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, followed by the Automotive Council UK.
Ahead of publishing its industrial strategy in full, the government has already unveiled a cash boost of £556 million for the Northern Powerhouse. This includes funding for the construction of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland and South Tyneside, directly adjacent to Nissan’s manufacturing plant.
The centre is expected to create an estimated 5,200 jobs and will focus on developing automotive technologies working directly alongside the Japanese car manufacturer, which received “reassurances” from government following Brexit that it would not lose out as a result of the vote.