69th Hatfield Memorial Lecture
Build More Factories: The Case for a Manufacturing Led Industrial Strategy
Britain faces economic headwinds not seen in a generation. With our economy still recovering from COVID and the full impact of Brexit yet to be felt, we are buffeted by high energy prices, the war in Ukraine, increased global uncertainty and now steep rises in the cost of borrowing. It is true to say that many of these factors are affecting other countries too, but with economic growth for the UK forecast to be worse than every G7 nation other than Russia, we also need to reflect on what makes our economy so uniquely fragile.
The consequences of this economic underperformance are being felt across the nation, not only in boardrooms, but in living rooms too. In 2005 the average Britain was better off than those in France and Germany, but the last 10 years has seen the wealthiest get richer, whilst those on average wages are forecast to fall behind Poland by the end of the decade and Slovenia shortly after.
The UK has become one of the most unequal and poorest performing economies in the developed world. But this is not just an economic story, it is also a human tragedy - with half of the children aged under 5 in my home region of the North East now living in poverty.
In this lecture I will address the major economic and social challenges facing the UK in the coming period, what we neglected in the past and what we need to get right in the future. I will make the case for a manufacturing led industrial strategy, a long neglected part of British political thinking, to ensure that we secure the resources we need for our future economy, create the capability we need for our national security and deliver on the promise to improve life chances and opportunities for people, wherever they live.
Chris McDonald is the Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute, the UKs national centre for metals innovation. The Institute develops new technologies for commercial application, primarily to reduce carbon emissions.
Chris’s background is in industrial and manufacturing, where he has worked internationally. A graduate of Cambridge University, Chris is a Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Royal Geographical Society. He is Chair of the UK Metals Council.
Chris is often called on to commentate in the media on industrial strategy, digital technologies, steel and decarbonisation. He provides expert consultancy and policy support in these areas.
Chris combines his professional activity with being Chair of the Redhills Charity in Durham and a Director of the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. He has a strong interest in the social impact of business including issues such as economic inequality, diversity & inclusion and sustainability.
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