One of the major tasks for the Master Cutler is to bang the drum for the manufacturing industry.
Since I had the honour to be elected to this role, I have been doing that with some vigour. I have had a particular focus on the desperate need for our Government to grip firmly UK energy policy and take action to really support major energy users.
Energy sits at the top of a pile of things which concern manufacturing competitiveness. In my speech at the Cutlers’ Feast last May, I set out the case for a Government created, but independently led, Office of Manufacturing Competitiveness.
This would show the Government’s real commitment to rebuilding our country’s manufacturing base and not just talking about it.
I repeat that call today. It’s not just about inadequate supply and excessive pricing of energy, although that’s the most pressing issue for many manufacturers today.
It’s also about having appropriate taxes to incentivise companies to invest and grow; having mechanisms to enable important infrastructure decisions to be progressed quickly; avoiding excessive red tape; ensuring young people are properly trained for work and many other things which we need to get right if we wish to see the economy rebuilding back towards manufacturing and away from an over dependence on the service sector.
It’s basically about testing all Government initiatives, policies, etc. to ensure they support manufacturing, before any such measures are enacted.
It might sound like a big ask to expect Government to submit itself to such scrutiny but it would show real commitment and transparency. Aren’t those two of the hallmarks of good Government?
On a completely different topic, I have the privilege to front up the Master Cutler’s Challenge charity fundraising. This has become the region’s premier annual fundraising event. It works by challenging businesses, voluntary groups, schools, colleges and teams to use their entrepreneurial skills and team-working to turn £100, which we provide for them, into lots more money for charity.
This year the two major recipients will be Whirlow Hall Farm Trust and Sheffield Hospitals’ Charity, with money raised for the hospitals’ charity going to the Jessop Wing neonatal intensive care unit and maternity hospital.
The challenge is launched today and Sheffield Forgemasters are the sponsor. So, get together with friends or colleagues and have some fun raising money for great causes. Visit www.mastercutlerschallenge2014.co.uk for details.