EEF, the manufacturers organisation, has urged the chancellor to use today’s Budget to address the rising costs faced by industry as manufacturing job losses look set to hit the one million mark.
The EEF said some of the losses could be attributed to inevitable global restructuring, the constant drive to increase productivity and the need to offshore for strategic and cost reasons.
However, it said the UK business environment is becoming less welcoming due to rising business costs, tax and regulation.
To back its plea, EEF released figures from a survey of more than 500 manufacturers which showed that, on a rating of one (negative) to five (positive) the UK scored lower than three on competitiveness indicators for transport, planning, other business costs, taxation and regulation – five of the six indicators tested.
Only skills availability was regarded as having a neutral impact on businesses.
EEF director general, Martin Temple, said: “We must ensure that we do not push companies and skilled jobs abroad unnecessarily by adding costs and legislation which smother entrepreneurship and destroy competitiveness.”
“The government has an ideal opportunity today to send a signal to business that it understands these pressures by taking steps to reduce costs and pressing ahead with positive efforts to invest in science and innovation,” he said.
CBI director general Digby Jones said UK manufacturers need to distinguish themselves on quality, not quantity.
“Twenty-first century manufacturing jobs have a secure future in the UK as our firms are among the best in the world at the value-added end of production,” he said.