Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, James Robinson, Head of Manufacturing and Engineering at PKF Francis Clark, of Poole, considers what manufacturers in the South West might like to hear from Phillip Hammond on October 29.

Incentives for businesses to invest in future technology would be welcome.

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He said: “Manufacturing is a key part of the UK economy, employing 2.7 million (up 145,000 from  March 31, 2013) and accounting for 10% of UK output. In the South West, alone, latest figures show 247,000 people are employed in manufacturing, with output calculated at £14 billion annually.

“But it faces great challenges, not least Brexit. Manufacturers, especially those relying on complex supply chains, desperately need clarity about our future intentions. Another challenge is the skills shortage. The Royal Academy of Engineering predicts the UK will need 265,000 skilled workers in the sector every year until 2024 to keep up with technological demand.

“The Budget provides the perfect opportunity to start addressing this, perhaps through further incentives and tax breaks. “Let’s not forget Research & Development (R&D). Manufacturing accounts for 69% of business R&D and is vital to keeping the UK at the forefront of technological change.”

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