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UK manufacturers hit back at claims firms are too reliant on foreign labour

manufacturers

UK manufacturers hit back at claims firms are too reliant on foreign labour

The trade body for British manufacturers has hit back at ministers’ accusations that firms have relied for too long on cheap foreign labour, urging them to work in partnership with business instead of viewing it “as the enemy within”.

Make UK is calling on the government to recognise the challenges they are facing – including supply chain disruption and shortages of staff such as HGV drivers – rather than blaming them at a time when they are also facing soaring costs, including for energy and raw materials.

It is urging them to improve cooperation with industry to ensure companies can recover from Brexit and the pandemic, and enable firms to invest and grow over the next decade.

In an intervention ahead of the chancellor’s budget this month, and in a marked change in tone for the organisation, Make UK said the manufacturing sector felt government was not working with them in a “spirit of partnership”.

The organisation has urged the government to move on from Brexit, said Stephen Phipson, its chief executive. “Currently there is a feeling within industry that the government is still fighting the last war and sees business as the enemy within,” he said.

“Business has moved on and, government must do too, working in a spirit of partnership with industry to develop a longer term economic plan which has enterprise and wealth creation as the fundamental principle.

“Growth is the right solution to making the most of the opportunities ahead of us and getting the job done.”

Phipson added: “To encourage the investment in technology and skills we need to help make this realistically happen, government must set out a long term vision for the economy that works with the grain of business to promote growth and wealth creation, not against it.”

In the face of government calls to invest in training more domestic workers, manufacturing businesses insist they do not rely on cheap labour, and that the high skill sector already pays more than the national average. Make UK found that almost half (47%) of companies planned to take on an apprentice this year.

The manufacturing sector is forecast to grow by 7% this year and just over 4% in 2022, but the trade body is warning that it will not bounce back to pre-pandemic levels if the government increases the tax burden on producers.

Companies are calling on Rishi Sunak to extend the superdeduction tax break – which allows large firms to offset 130% of investment spending on plant and machinery against profits – beyond March 2023.

They are asking government to alter the business rates system, so that plant and machinery are not included in calculations. They are also requesting more support, such as VAT relief, for smaller firms in the intensive or high-energy raw material supply chains.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve backed businesses throughout the pandemic through our £400bn package of support, including our Plan for Jobs, business rates relief, grants and loans – and it’s working, with GDP recovering quickly, unemployment falling and the number of people on payrolls back up to pre-pandemic levels.

“We’re continuing to support businesses including through the super deduction – the biggest two-year business tax cut in British history – and investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation.”

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UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Business

Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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