Industry wants to see government investing in infrastructure and tackling late payment. © Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Industry wants to see government investing in infrastructure and tackling late payment. © Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

What industry wants from the next government

6 December 2019

In the run-up to the UK General Election industry bodies have launched manifestos covering what they want to see from an incoming government. 

Common recommendations include the need for investment in infrastructure and sustainability, and an end to late payments. 

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

The CBI wants to see the securing of a deal with the EU, investment in workforce and innovation and completion of infrastructure projects including HS2 and Heathrow.

It would like the prioritisation of emissions reductions from transport and buildings, to meet net zero by 2050, reform of “the broken business rates system” and a framework for better engagement on new global trade deals.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general at the CBI, said: “We simply cannot afford another wasted year of political paralysis, indecision and distraction while productivity and investment suffer.

“The starting point must be long-term solutions to long-term problems. Use the combined skills of enterprise and politics to set out clear strategies to make education fit for the pace of technology change, tackle the climate crisis, and ensure all parts of the UK can share in growth.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The FSB has called for an end to the “late payment crisis”, “radical” investments in infrastructure and a reform of business rates to give small retailers a third off bills. 

The FSB has recommended measures to tackle late payments, such as making large business’s audit committees responsible for payment practices, empowering the small business commissioner, banning late payers from all public sector procurement opportunities and supporting small firms with contract enforcement and commercial disputes. 

With regard to infrastructure investment, the FSB proposed doubling spend on local roads. It wants better access to broadband connectivity by 2025 and good mobile coverage using 4G and 5G. 

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the FSB, said: “The state of our national infrastructure is, frankly, an embarrassment. We need to get on with rolling out the ambitious investment needed to make our road, rail and digital networks fit for purpose.”

Unite the Union 

Unite has developed a plan to “transform the UK manufacturing industry” by making the sector sustainable through domestic production and investments. 

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary for manufacturing at Unite, said: “We have in our hands the power to make sure that government at every level uses its procurement budget to support British manufacturing and its extended supply chains.

 “We can and must bring back the thousands of manufacturing jobs that moved overseas in order to shorten supply chains and reduce our overall global carbon footprint.”

He added: “Sectoral collective bargaining, true industrial democracy and new corporate ownership models providing a collective voice for working people via their unions are central to the long-term future of advanced, sustainable manufacturing.”

Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)

BESA recommended improvements to sustainability, safety, competency and SME support in the construction sector.

The organisation has called for increased transparency around payment terms, mandatory reporting on compliance with the Prompt Payment Code, and a retention deposit scheme to protect SMEs. 

BESA said the government should boost indoor air quality and improve safety and fire procedures, as recommended in the reviews that followed the Grenfell disaster. 

Rail Forum Midlands (RFM)

The RFM has asked a new government to commit to four areas: making a long-term plan for infrastructure improvements, using rail as a major part of the decarbonisation plan, completion of infrastructure such as HS2, Crossrail 2 and Midlands Engine Rail, and commitment to transparent, auditable targets for UK content with annual progress reports. 

Elaine Clark, CEO at RFM, said: “The rail supply chain needs clarity and certainty in order to be best placed to respond to the future demands of government and key clients. As we move to a more devolved approach to planning and delivery this is more crucial than ever.”


TechUK’s manifesto is based on building smarter public services, increasing innovation and investment in technology, developing skills and opportunities, and ensuring the online world is safe and secure. 

The organisation’s demands include appointing a champion of digital transformation in each government department, using technology to tackle climate change, and to make the UK an ambassador for free and open digital trade.

Road Haulage Association (RHA)

The RHA has called for the government to focus on road freight for transport policy, highlighting five areas that need addressing to improve the economy: the transition to net zero carbon, skills shortages, infrastructure investments such as roads and lorry parking, fuel duty, and Brexit.

See here for a roundup of the parties' manifestos and what they mean for procurement.

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