Last week the Chancellor George Osborne revealed this year’s Budget, with surprise but welcome news for savers, pensioners and pubs around the country, and a rise in the personal allowance tax threshold to keep more money in people’s pockets.
Perhaps not so headline-grabbing, but arguably more important, was the news the Chancellor had for businesses, and about nurturing skills. Here in the Valleys and Vale, almost one in four jobs is in engineering and manufacturing, and on-going Government support in this sector can make all the difference.
Manufacturers and businesses looking to invest and export will welcome the Government’s measures to cut energy bills, double the tax allowance for investing and boost support for exporters.
In my work with the Festomane team, I always hear about our lack of engineers, of young people taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) careers to fill the opportunities locally and nationally. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced he will extend grants for smaller businesses to support over 100,000 more apprenticeships.
This is great news for young people in the Valleys and Vale; one of our Festomane partners, and the district’s largest employer, Delphi Diesel Systems of Stonehouse, has an award-winning apprenticeship scheme and can help more people learn their trade in engineering and manufacturing.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast 1.5 million more jobs over the next five years, with unemployment falling to just over 5 per cent. The economy is on the up, forecast to grow 2.7 per cent this year alone, and with it is British engineering and manufacturing.
Unfortunately some businesses may still encounter problems. Locally, one of Dursley’s historic firms Lister Petter has gone into administration, but we must remain hopeful that a buyer will step in to rescue the firm.
The Government’s emphasis on investment in manufacturing, though, means that new jobs will be created to replace those that are lost; that there will be more jobs in British manufacturing than there have been in decades.
The long-term economic plan is working, and the Valleys and Vale has much to look forward to.