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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Cumbria is the UK's best-kept secret - claim

Cumbria is Britain’s “best-kept secret” in the battle to shift the economy away from high finance and back to making things.

That’s the assessment of David Ost, north west director of the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

Mr Ost said the county has a vital role to play as the UK seeks to forge a new economy based on manufacturing and exports, rather than relying on the City of London and the public sector for economic growth.

“I think the rest of the country has the wrong impression of Cumbria. People see its economy as predominantly farming and tourism based, when, in fact, there’s a massive range of skills up here,” he said.

“There are some huge organisations, like Sellafield, which are of great strategic significance to the north west and to Britain as a whole.

“Cumbria is our best-kept secret. That isn’t an entirely positive thing, because it suggests that the county hasn’t been able to promote its strengths enough in the past.”

The EEF is Britain’s leading employers’ organisation for the manufacturing industry, with 162 members in Cumbria, including some of the county’s largest employers.

It offers business services, legal representation and industry intelligence and provides the industry with a powerful lobbying voice in Westminster and Brussels.

The EEF’s chairman in the north west is Paul Ashley, chairman of Carlisle door maker Clark Door.

Mr Ost added: “The perception that Britain doesn’t make anything anymore is completely wrong.

“The industry accounts for half of all UK exports, employs 2.5m people and was the only sector that actually grew last year.”

Mr Ost said he welcomed parts of George Osborne’s Budget, but was disappointed the Chancellor did not pledge further support for manufacturers.

“The reduction in Corporation Tax was helpful, as was the extra tax credits for research and development.

“It wasn’t the silver bullet to cure our economic ills though.

“There are still major problems that need addressing – skills shortages, lack of apprentices, red tape and pensions.”

 

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