By Daniel Hunter

EEF, the UK's manufacturers' organisation, has called on Britain's political leaders to back policies that will rebalance the country's economy after a YouGov poll showed strong support from voters.

The call follows new research confirming widespread support for industry’s demands for better-balanced growth. Over six in ten consumers (63%) want to see Britain enjoying a better-balanced economy, where growth is sustainable and the economy is growing across different sectors. They want to see Britain making more (59%), exporting more (64%) and competing more effectively with other countries (58%).

Consumers also want long-term plans for protecting and building upon the economic recovery to be centre stage during next year’s election campaign. Almost eight in ten (79%) say this is important — a sentiment echoed by industry leaders. At the same time, almost seven in ten (68%) say that if current economic and business policies are working well they should be left alone.

The mood music from voters is that a better-balanced economy will give greater long-term security and resilience — and that manufacturing has a key role to play in this.

Over eight in ten (85%) want the next Government to promote a stronger UK manufacturing base, believing it will deliver more jobs (79%), economic growth (64%) and prosperity (56%). Six in ten (62%) think that a stronger manufacturing sector will give the country more economic security. It is the sector consumers most want to see grow (48% compared to the next closest sectors: services 15% and construction 15%).

But with so much emphasis on strength and security, there are clear concerns over the timing of the next election and what it could mean for Britain’s economic bounce back. Over seven in ten consumers (72%) say that the election comes at a critical point for the recovery, while 77% say that the upturn could be affected by the election’s policy outcomes.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, says: “The message to parties and political leaders is loud and clear: a strong, rebalanced economy has to be the long-term end goal and at the heart of your election offering. Industry and voters are singing from the same hymn sheet. We want a robust, stable and resilient economy with a clear focus on balanced growth and this is a message party leaders must not fail to take into the election and beyond.

“A stronger manufacturing base is a vital component — and while it is not a ‘cure all’ for every economic ill, British industry does have a fundamental role to play in building a better-balanced and more robust economy. Government can and should focus policies on delivering this aim.

“There is no room for complacency. While the UK is on the right path, we still have a long way to go. We cannot afford to lose focus. Net trade is still weak, investment is still below pre-recession levels and, while manufacturing has gained ground, more can be done to create the right conditions for manufacturers and wider industry to thrive and grow. Better-balanced growth must still be our 2020 destination and we are looking for all parties to commit to this ahead of the next election.”

Do you think the economy needs to be rebalanced? What can be done to help it? You can email your reactions to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com

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