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Osborne accused of being a ‘soundbite’ chancellor as manufacturing output falls

10 February 2016
George Osborne needs to turn his rhetoric into action or risk becoming the ‘soundbite’ chancellor, Britain’s largest union, Unite warned, as it urged the chancellor to commit to an active industrial strategy in his budget in March.
 
The call came as the latest figures today (Wednesday 10 February) showed industrial output suffered its sharpest monthly drop since December 2012 with manufacturing output falling by 1.7 per cent in December on a year earlier. 
 
With output in manufacturing falling for a third month in row for the first time since 2009, Unite warned that the chancellor was presiding over an economy which was becoming dangerously lopsided and reliant on consumer spending for growth. 
 
The service sector now accounts for 80 per cent of the British economy, while foundation industries such as steel are being hit by cheap Chinese imports and a failure by government minsters to turn guidance on procurement for infrastructure projects into orders for British steel.
 
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “The question George Osborne and his fellow minsters need to ask themselves, is do they want Britain to continue making things?
 
“As these figures show manufacturing has shrunk on their watch while the economy becomes dangerously lopsided. George Osborne is in danger of becoming known as the soundbite chancellor who presided over the demise of British manufacturing.
 
“He needs to use his budget in March to commit to an active industrial strategy that supports British manufacturing and the high skilled, high wage jobs we need to rebalance the economy.    
 
“A continued reliance on consumer spending and the creation of low paid insecure work will not generate sustainable growth or put the UK on the much promised path to prosperity. 
 
“It’s time for George Osborne to start matching his rhetoric with action by acting decisively and swiftly to support foundation industries like steel and guaranteeing that if it’s built for Britain it will be made by Britain. 
 
“A failure to do so will lead to an ever shrinking manufacturing sector and an increasing reliance on low paid, low skilled work.”  
 
ENDS   
 
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 
 
Notes to editors:
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.