Britain’s industrial heartlands being put “at serious risk” by government’s “incoherent” and “reckless” climate politicking

21 Sep 2023 11:45 AM

The TUC yesterday (Wednesday) warned that Britain’s manufacturing heartlands are being put at “serious risk” by the Conservatives’ “incoherent” climate politicking. 

The warning comes after reports that the Prime Minister is planning to abandon key net zero pledges – and less than a week after thousands of steel jobs were put on the line at Tata Steel in Port Talbot. 

The union body has branded the government’s approach to net zero “reckless” and says Britain must invest in net-zero ready infrastructure now to catch up with global competitors, having fallen far behind the likes of the US and Germany. 

The TUC says more job losses could be on the cards without a serious investment plan and a government willing to work “hand in hand” with unions and employers, as they do in other countries.  

It has challenged all political parties to come forward with a “serious roadmap” for future-proofing the UK economy – and has set out proposals for an “invest in our future” programme, which is a Biden-style investment plan for Britain. 

Industrial heartlands hit hardest 

The TUC says that around 800,000 manufacturing and supply chain jobs in automotive, steel and other sectors could be at risk if the government does not implement a Biden-style climate plan. 

The union body warns the jobs could be lost to countries offering higher climate subsidies and investment in clean infrastructure. The analysis highlights how an active industrial strategy, like President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act in the US, can support UK industries. 

The TUC says the government must “pull every lever to deliver net zero and create and support good jobs.” 

The analysis shows how communities in Britain’s industrial heartlands will be most impacted if the UK fails to act. The regions with the most jobs at risk are the West Midlands, the Northwest, and Yorkshire and the Humber. 

The TUC says many strategically important industries are in danger of “haemorrhaging” jobs overseas. Broken down by sector this includes an estimated: 

Investment breeds investment  

The TUC has set out proposals for an “Invest in our future” programme, which includes options for government investments in sustainable power, industrial upgrades and public transport, to create hundreds of thousands of good jobs across the country and grow the UK’s manufacturing sector.  

The programme amounts to around £28bn of capital investment per year and would be expected to bring in further investment on a similar scale.  

Labour has already committed to scaling up to £28bn of capital investment into clean infrastructure per year in its first term of government.  

The TUC highlights how public investment in clean infrastructure by other nations is already attracting billions more in private investment. 

Germany committed €8bn in public financing to green hydrogen projects, generating around €20bn in private investment. 

And the investment package announced as part of the US Inflation Reduction Act, generated an estimated $900 billion in extra investment from the private sector. 

The TUC says the same level of urgency and ambition is needed in the UK to create jobs and protect key industries. The new analysis shows how additional private investment of £118bn could be generated.  

The union body says an “Invest in our Future” programme, should include investment in:  

The TUC says investing in these key areas would create and support hundreds of thousands of good jobs in Britain's industrial heartlands and protect strategically important industries like steel and manufacturing. 

In addition, as shown by other countries, any money spent on these projects would generate major long-term returns for the public purse. 

TUC research published earlier this month showed that for every £1 spent on establishing a public energy power company the exchequer would get £3 back.  

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak yesterday said:  

“The climate challenge can be an opportunity to build a fairer, more prosperous UK. 

“But hundreds of thousands of auto, steel and other industrial workers’ jobs and livelihoods are now at serious risk because of the Conservatives’ reckless and incoherent politicking. 

“While other countries are investing in the jobs of tomorrow and properly supporting their manufacturing bases, the Tories are abandoning key net-zero targets. 

“Ministers should be working hand in hand with unions and employers on a proper long-term industrial strategy, to create quality jobs and a safe climate.” 

Commenting on the choice ahead, Paul added: 

“The UK has a clear choice. We can invest and create hundreds of thousands of good jobs and safeguard our industrial heartlands. Or we can drag our heels and deal with the consequences - high bills, job losses and crippled industries.

“We urgently need a Biden-style investment plan to get our industries back on track.” 

Editors note’s


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