Jeremy Hunt pledges £4.5bn boost for manufacturing in net zero push

18 November, 20323
Daily Telegraph, by Tim Wallace

Jeremy Hunt has vowed to invest £4.5bn in manufacturing to keep Britain “at the forefront of the global transition to net zero”.

Electric cars, offshore wind and carbon-capture technology are all in line for extra funding from 2025 – beyond the expected date of next year’s general election.

The Chancellor said he is “targeting funding to support the sectors where the UK is or could be world-leading”.

He said: “Our £4.5bn of funding will leverage many times that from the private sector, and in turn will grow our economy, create more skilled, higher-paid jobs in new industries that will be built to last.”

Under the proposals, more than £2bn will go to the automotive industry.

Mr Hunt told the BBC last night that he had been lobbying Elon Musk to open a Tesla factory in the UK.

His comments come as the Government prepares to publish its battery strategy next week, which will set out plans to encourage a “globally competitive battery supply chain in the UK by 2030”.

It also plans to spend £1bn on aerospace and the development of zero-emissions vehicles. Around £150m will also be reserved for the development of self-driving cars.

Another £960m is going into a Green Industries Growth Accelerator, which the Government hopes will encourage clean energy manufacturing, while another £500m is going into life sciences.

The Treasury said this is to “build resilience for future health emergencies and capitalise on the UK’s world-leading research and development”.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the spending pledge “sends a powerful signal that the UK is open for business”.

He said: “Coming on the back of almost £20bn committed by the sector in next-generation plants and technologies this year alone, it is indicative of the scale of investment such support can leverage and the result of substantial collaboration between Government and the industry.

“It will deliver benefits not just for the automotive sector but for the whole country in terms of growth, high-value jobs and productivity.”

It comes as the Government is under pressure to find ways to boost the economy while balancing the books ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor is expected to announce growth-boosting tax cuts, including an extension to the full expensing regime for business investment.

On Friday, it also emerged that Mr Hunt is considering a tax break for pubs and restaurants, after warnings that swathes could go bust without government action.

This could come in the form of an extension of a 75pc reduction in business rates for hospitality firms and small businesses, Bloomberg reported.

Sam Richards, director of campaign group Britain Remade said the main problem holding back manufacturers is regulation.

He said: “If ministers really want to boost growth and create jobs, they must overhaul Britain’s creaking planning rules – making it quicker, easier and simpler to get spades in the ground on major infrastructure projects.

“These delays don’t only slow down the transition to net zero, they also have a huge impact on businesses throughout the supply chain – limiting investment and slowing job creation.”