Government buying should shape economy, says Cable

12 September 2012

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12 September 2012 | Adam Leach

Business secretary Vince Cable has said the government will increase efforts to shape the British economy through “what it buys, and how it goes about buying it”.

Yesterday the business secretary launched an industrial strategy. The plan will support industries such as automotive manufacturing, life sciences and aerospace through measures such as easier access to finance and supporting emerging technologies. Further, he explained the strategy would push a “buy British” policy in procurement.

He made a point of stating the government was not promoting a “protectionist” approach, but that it would look to strengthen domestic power in industries so that the government and private sector would look to buy from UK companies naturally.

In particular, he highlighted the government move to publish a pipeline of upcoming business covering £70 billion of future spend as a way to boost activity in certain sectors. He explained the 13 pipelines already published had identified a demand for tunneling capacity and technology, which has already seen a tunneling academy launched to support expansion in the sector.

In his speech, he said: “Government can and should be a responsible customer, developing a considered long-term relationship with our supply chain, and that is what we intend to do.”

Other measures in the strategy included a new government-backed institution to help companies invest, government and industry partnerships to develop sector specific strategies, and a £165 million fund to help develop the key skills required for industrial growth.

Commenting on the strategy, CBI director general, John Cridland, said: “The UK is a world leader in many sectors and if we are to secure significant growth in the decades to come, the government must enable [UK companies] to capitalise on their competitive advantages and stay ahead of international rivals.”

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