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Revealed: Massive hole in Government's industrial strategy

January 24, 2017 4:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have attacked the government's industrial strategy, revealing that many sectors face a potential loss of funding due to uncertainty over Britain's future relationship with Europe.

Chris Fox, Liberal Democrat industrial spokesperson, said: "The biggest danger facing British Industry is the loss of access to the Single Market and the possible loss of membership of the Customs Union.

"Yet they aren't mentioned once in the entire document. The decision of the Conservative Brexit government to yank Britain out of the Single Market will lose a huge amount of EU funding and create huge staff losses which no amount of skills training can ever entirely replace.

"There is also nothing on reversing the cuts to schools, which is massively reducing our skills base, and there is only one mention of the steel industry when its entire future hangs in the balance.

"The government says it doesn't want to pick winners but there are plenty of losers in this document. There is nothing to indicate which sectors will be the government's focus for tariff free access to the Single Market. The government has no idea what it will do for Brexit, and therefore no industrial strategy."

Among sectors which face potential loss of funding due to uncertainty over our future relationship with Europe are:

Science & Research

Some €8.8 billion went to the UK in research between 2007-2013, according to the Royal Society.

Skills and training

€352 million went from the EU to the UK for skills and further education.

Infrastructure

In 2015, the European Investment Bank (EIB) financing committed to the UK amounted to nearly €8bn, including more than €400m for the expansion of Aberdeen and Liverpool ports, €700m for social housing in Northern Ireland and in London, more than €525m for the Caithness Coast wind farm, and €260m to Swansea and Oxford universities for research and improved teaching facilities. The bank has been particularly active in the environmental field. In the early days of privatisation, the UK water industry secured from the EIB most of the external finance to bring Britain's rivers, beaches and water supplies up to the best European standards. Britain's future with the EIB is now entirely up in the air.

Affordable energy

Vivid Economics recent report showed the biggest effect on the energy sector would be that estimated £500 million cost of Brexit. In their report, it said that higher investment costs are "the most significant Brexit risk to the energy sector." This investment cost will be passed on to customers through bills.

Trade and investment

Leaving the EU Single Market, according to an earlier IFS report, could mean a £24-31 billion weakening of the public finances by 2020 from the short-term impacts of leaving the EU for an EEA or FTA scenario. WTO membership would leave the government needing to find a further £4-8 billion. Even if these estimates come down, they would still be massive.