Connoisseurs of Tory politics might find it surprising to see prime minister Theresa May talking about “a new approach to how government and business can work together to shape a stronger, fairer economy.”
“At its heart it epitomises my belief in a strong and strategic state that intervenes decisively wherever it can make a difference,” she says in her introduction to a 250 page Industrial Strategy white paper published yesterday, which has clearly been put together to provide a blueprint for a post-Brexit Britain.
Not surprisingly, supply chain concerns figure strongly in the document. A core concern is the productivity problem – the fact that the UK lags so badly behind all its major industrial competitors.
In his forward to the white paper, business secretary Greg Clark says: “For all the excellence of our world-beating companies, the high calibre of our workforce and the prosperity of many areas, we have businesses, people and places whose level of productivity is well below what can be achieved.
“So this Industrial Strategy deliberately strengthens the five foundations of productivity: innovation, people, infrastructure, places and the business environment.”
The white paper sets out four “grand challenges”:
- Become a world leader in the way people, goods and services move.
- Put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution.
- Harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society.
- Maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth.
Specifically, it sets out plans to launch a new Supply Chain Competitiveness programme “that will target areas where key businesses need to improve to match the best in Europe and beyond, supporting training and enhanced business processes”.
The white paper has been warmly welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry which urged the government to move quickly from strategy to action.
And it is clear that there are new opportunities opening up for organisations to take advantage of government support to strengthen their supply chains.
But ultimately, of course, the thing that is going to define the shape of supply chains in the future is the trading environment that exists following the UK’s exit from the European Union.