7000 jobs supported by Manufacturing Growth Programme

Copyright 2018 Mike Sewell (tel: 07966 417114) Photograph by Mikey Sewell. Photography at Arrowsmith Engineering in Coventry. (Commissioned by Russ Cockburn - Cucumber PR)

After creating and safeguarding more than 7000 jobs, an industrial business support programme comes to an end this month.

The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), which is designed and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice, will see funding from the European Regional Development Fund end and is now urging the Government and local authorities to ensure that tailored advice for manufacturing SMEs is quickly put in place.

The MGP was established to address some of the main barriers to growth experienced by SME manufacturers. It provided grant funding for business improvements, capital projects and mentoring from industry experts.

A report into the scheme, which began in 2016, has found that more than 95% of companies surveyed expected their business to grow in the next five years because of receiving support from the programme, with 63% identifying the development of new products as one of the key areas.

In addition, 63% said they had already seen an increase in turnover, whilst 52% cited improved productivity as the main outcome of the support received.

Its dedicated team of Manufacturing Growth Managers has delivered £5.78m of grants that, in turn, have unlocked £10.3m of private sector investment. It’s also generated on average £44,678 GVA per employee in the region.

Jane Galsworthy, managing director of Oxford Innovation Advice said: “With the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) dividing up funding for business support at a very local level, there is a risk that West Midlands businesses will only be able to access generic, low-quality support which delivers lower value for money and less measurable impact on businesses and the economy.”

“We’ve proven over the last seven years what targeted support can do for SME manufacturers, helping them accelerate growth, improve productivity and create jobs. With funding for MGP coming to an end, this creates a significant hole in specialist high-quality support for smaller manufacturers.

Manufacturing is critical to the UK economy as it accounts for around half of all UK exports and nearly 10% of the country’s overall economy (GVA). We are keen, therefore, to engage with government agencies and local authorities to see how funding can be best utilised to provide continued specialist support for manufacturers.”

Verity Davidge, director of policy at Make UK, went on to add: “Manufacturing is central to the future of the UK economy as a provider of high skill, high value jobs, especially in emerging technologies, digitalisation, and the move to net zero.

“SMEs are the absolute backbone of the sector employing the vast majority of people and it’s vital that support programmes are maintained to ensure they can grow and prosper.”