THE INSTITUTION’S RESPONSE TO THE BUDGET STATEMENT

Overview

Although much had been reported/leaked in advance of the budget, in the end the 2017 budget was fairly light on issues directly relevant to engineering and science, a vital component to our economy (today and in the future).

Education

Mathematics

We welcome the Chancellor’s measures designed to promote greater numeracy among young people, including a £660 premium payable to schools for each post-16 maths student.

Mathematical skills will increasingly underpin our economy in the new industrial age, but research published by the Institution this week starkly illustrates a poor understanding that impedes the translation of maths and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects into career choices in engineering and technology.

The report: “We think it’s important, but don’t quite know what it is” aptly sums up a void in too many young people’s school experience. We call on Government to develop a school engineering and industry strategy so that pupils studying maths, science and DT (Design and Technology) will not have to wait until they are 16, or even older, to discover what engineering is, why it is and what it can lead to.

Technical Level Qualifications

The announcement of a £20m fund to prepare the further education sector for T-levels is welcome by the Institution.

T-levels offer a different but equal model to the standard A-level routes, acknowledging different learning and training routes that will help drive the UK’s technological future.
The Chancellor’s fund will help to bring about the inevitable change in culture and staff training needs that will ensure FE colleges have the capability to offer T-Levels of high quality.

However, the Institution again urges that future focus should be towards addressing known skill shortage professions, such as engineering, with additional incentives for colleges and students to pursue careers in these professions.

Peter Finegold
Head of Education and Skills, Research and Policy
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Environment

Plastics

We welcome the Government’s announcement for an investigation into single-use plastic containers and the possible taxation of these products in the future. However, this should be matched by investigation in to alternatives materials and options to encourage companies to move away from products which are known to damage the environment.

Fuel Duty

The lack of increases in fuel duties across land and air transport fails to incentivise individuals and businesses to reduce fuel use or encourage use of alternative modes of transport. This policy contradicts efforts by cities and towns to reduce air pollution and innovate new engineering solutions in transport systems.

Dr Jenifer Baxter
Head of Energy and Environment
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Transport

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

The Institution welcomes the continuing investment into electric vehicles with an additional £400m for the development of an electric charging infrastructure.

This increase in the use of electric vehicles should be accompanied by the continuing support for low-emission solutions hydrogen technologies as well as local smart grids, helping to reduce emissions and our reliance on large centralised power stations.

Philippa Oldham
Head of Transport
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Manufacturing

Productivity

The Institution welcomes the increased investment in research and development (R&D). However, this is still below that of our major competitors, such as Germany and USA that’s stands at 2.8% and 2.7% respectively.

To ensure the UK’s manufacturing sector does not suffer any economic shock following the UKs decision to withdraw from the EU, we need to increase both R&D investment and training of the national workforce and we welcome the announcement that the Government along with the CBI and TUC will be addressing the strategic workforce needs for this future.

These efforts will help increase productivity and offer innovative products and services in what is becoming an increasing competitive global marketplace.

Philippa Oldham
Head of Manufacturing
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Housing

Modular Construction

Much was made by the Chancellor on the requirement to increase housing provision over the coming decades. The Institution welcomes this commitment however, urges once again the need to investigate and invest in further research and development into building practices which could help accelerate house building in the UK.

Concepts such as off-site modular construction could provide increase in house construction as well as more affordable options in many high-value areas, such as the south east of England.

Further to this no mention was made of the need to provide greater incentives to support energy efficient housing developed with low-carbon energy solutions.  A move that would reduce the environmental impact of UK housing stock.

Construction for an ageing population

Although it is important to offer incentives for first-time buyers (stamp duty reductions or construction incentives to cater for this market), it is also important to encourage construction of flexible housing, which can cater for the changing lifestyles and needs of individuals and families as they grow and age.

If housing stock is not developed today, we will require significant retrofitting in the coming years to address issues of mobility and remote healthcare monitoring.

Government must change its existing policy on house building to incentivise construction companies to build for flexible living. A house which enables people to age well will reduce the cost of residential and hospital care in the long-term, saving taxpayers money.

Dr Helen Meese
Head of Healthcare
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Healthcare

The Institution welcomes the immediate additional funding of £350m to the NHS; coincidentally the same value as promoted on the infamous Brexit Bus during the EU Referendum.

However, this is only a stop-gap which will not address the long-term and growing issues across the health service; particularly those faced by our older population.

Government must look to implement the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy immediately by providing funding and investment incentives for technology development which will reduce the pressure on the NHS. Technology to support primary and social care providers will be fundamental in tackling these long-term problems.

Dr Helen Meese
Head of Healthcare
Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Article source: http://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/the-institution%27s-response-to-the-budget-statement?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=experts


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s