Over the last couple of years, it has dawned on me just how rare British manufacturing has become, when previously, making ‘stuff’ in the UK, is something we excelled at.
My concerns have also been growing for the loss of skills base in our country and I think it’s time we realised we cannot let this go.
It really hit home for me when I heard about the steel industry in crisis and how the Chinese were flooding our market with cheap imports. So cheap that they were making steel and selling into our scrap market for us to re-melt. How could we possibly compete with that?
I’m sure you’ve heard the stories in the news about government projects and British firms not even getting a look in to bid on such as the multi-billion HS2 line.
If they succeeded in killing our market, it means we will lose crucial skills that will not be recovered. It takes millions of pounds to restart a steelworks, but who would invest the capital and significantly, who would be around to make the steel?
My thoughts have turned to how we can make a difference, if our government could not impose tariffs on imports from other countries or even choose British goods in a tender to support our own industries then the matter turns to, what can we do?
We now make excellent choices with our food, locally, ethically sourced, free-range, organic. We just need to make these choices in everything we buy and ask the questions that are never asked such as: Where are the materials made for this product? Where is this assembled? Do you have an option for one which is made locally, including from Europe?
By asking these questions it creates an awkwardness and also an awareness that people care. If enough of us do it then people will be forced to listen and offer a choice.
It’s not just about buying just British, but about supporting local markets. If it isn’t available here buy it as near to home as possible, as far as Europe. In this way the money, jobs and skills also stay relatively local.
It is easy to get sucked in to other markets; they make very attractively priced products – I’m sure we have all been to Primark at some point and taken advantage of their offerings. The trouble is that the short-term gain results in long-term loss. Once the skills are gone we will be held to ransom as there will be no alternative. If a war should happen, what would we do?
As we have a choice to vote in the Referendum, we have a choice to vote with our purse and support British manufacturing. It will pay dividends in our own economy and people will be encouraged to manufacture again before we lose the crucial skills. In addition, now that we are out of the European Union, there’s potential to leverage this on this on the export front. The next time you buy anything think about it – is there a local choice?
About the author
Katy Moss is the managing director of Trent Refractories – a UK based manufacturer and supplier of bespoke refractory solutions, supplying the UK market and beyond.