Labour claim Industrial Strategy shows a government 'short on details and new ideas'
Labour have torn into the Government’s long-awaited industrial strategy, claiming it is little more than a rehash of existing policies.
The lengthy document sets out plans for extra spending to boost innovation, special sectoral deals for high-tech industries and a new Industrial Strategy Council to be launched in 2018.
Business Secretary Greg Clark has also promised another £735m of spending for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, in addition to the £1bn already committed to the fund.
His opposite number Rebecca Long-Bailey argued the strategy was too focused on the south of England and did not address the difficulties faced by low-paid workers in many industries.
“This is a White Paper made up of re-announced policies and old spending commitments, showing once again that this is a Government short on details and new ideas," she said.
“Nothing in the White Paper will help give businesses the certainty or incentives they need to invest in the face of the Government’s catastrophic handling of Brexit.
“What detail there is concentrates on a few elite industries in which Britain already has an advantage, and will do nothing to help the millions of people who work in low productivity and low wage sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care, or those based outside the “Golden Triangle” made up by London, Oxford and Cambridge."
The proposals also came under fire from Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, who oversaw the launch of an industrial strategy as Business Secretary in the coalition government.
“What is being announced today is not much more than a reinvention of the wheel. We've had an industrial strategy already for five years,” Sir Vince said.
“But there is a big cloud hanging over it now caused by the major uncertainties around Brexit.”
However the plans were welcomed by the British Chambers of Commerce, who worked with the Business department on the strategy.
Director general Adam Marshall said: “Businesses will welcome the sense of mission that infuses the Industrial Strategy, as well as its assessment of the challenges and opportunities that the UK faces, particularly as both businesses and government look to forge a new path beyond the European Union.”
Labour MP and leading supporter of Open Britain Alison McGovern added: “The Government’s new industrial strategy has noble intentions, but unfortunately it barely touches on the elephant in the room: Brexit.
“We have already seen investment dry up in the car industry and other key sectors. And the aim of boosting productivity and employment opportunities will be holed under the water-line if the country is wrenched out of the Single Market and the Customs Union.
“The single best thing the Government could do for UK industry would be to change course and keep Britain as close to our biggest trade partner as possible. If Brexit continues to damage our economy and put jobs at risk, people should keep an open mind about whether it is the best thing for our country.”