Political Agenda: what’s in the Industrial Strategy white paper?
“Many of the measures in the industrial strategy white paper have a familiar ring”
The long awaited industrial strategy white paper, published on Monday (27 November), contains a mixture of something new, quite a lot that is borrowed and not much blue.
To start with the politics, it’s not so long ago that the phrase “industrial strategy” was thoroughly out of favour in government circles.
Former business secretary Sajid Javid was keen to distance himself from the initiative that his predecessor, the Lib Dems’ Sir Vince Cable, had championed while he held the post.
However following the EU referendum, the concept was back on the agenda with the installation of Javid’s successor Greg Clark.
As someone who had cut his political teeth in the centrist Social Democratic Party in the 1980s, Clark is clearly more comfortable with an interventionist approach to economic policy than his Thatcherite predecessor in the business hot seat.
He was so keen on industrial strategy that it has been enshrined in his department’s name. And this week, Clark delivered the long awaited industrial strategy.
Now for the borrowed bits first. Many of the measures in the white paper have a familiar ring having already been trailed in last month’s clean growth strategy.
The main new initiative in the white paper is the unveiling of a new fund for smart systems.
However the bulk of the £725 million pot, which the fund will be drawn from, has already been allocated. This leaves only about £200 million over for smart systems to fight over with similar funds for agriculture and the ageing society. Of these, only smart systems falls within Clark’s BEIS remit: the energy sector will have to hope that he smiles on his own patch.
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