Leading Labour politician Bridget Phillipson calls for investment across whole region
As the aerospace industry begins to make inroads into its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, innovation is set to be critical to creating global competitive advantage.
Not only is innovation essential for enhancing productivity and creating new ways of working for a new future, it is key to enabling the industry to reach ‘jet zero’ by 2050.
Speaking at the MAA’s recent black-tie dinner, where we have hosted political leaders from different parties over the years, Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, highlighted the importance of ‘net zero’ to Labour’s future decision making. The heavy attention that has been on the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, demonstrates that sustainability is a priority for political leaders worldwide.
Bridget said Labour recognised the work of the aerospace industry to improve fuel efficiency through innovation to help to create a greener future. She also recognised the need for stronger investment in essential technologies such as electric and hybrid flight demonstrators, alternative propulsion systems and air transport optimisation. These are all things in which Midlands aerospace companies can have an important role.
Not only does fuel efficiency help our planet, Bridget was eager to stress, but it is also crucial for reducing UK industries’ susceptibility to energy price shocks.
Bridget acknowledged the challenges faced by manufacturers and the need for a long-term industrial strategy that harnesses proper thinking and planning in good time, reducing the focus on one-year spending cycles, so that businesses have clarity and certainty.
“In industries like aerospace with long time horizons for production and sales, we may not get a second chance to make a long-term success of the sector if things are upended by short-term changes,” said Bridget. “And aerospace investment from government needs to include stronger targets for giving direct R&D funding support to smaller supply chain companies that also have important contributions to make to net zero.”
Recently, the Aerospace Growth Partnership put a case to the Treasury for a significant uplift and extensions of R&D funding to help retain the UK’s strong global position in aerospace and contribute to net zero across the world. If the submission is successful, Bridget stressed, a significant proportion of the funding and expertise of large companies should be invested in boosting innovation, productivity, skills and high-quality jobs in the supply chain.
Commenting on Bridget’s speech, Dr Andrew Mair, the MAA Chief Executive, said: “We were delighted that Bridget Phillipson accepted the invitation to join the MAA Annual Dinner. She also took the time to meet with a group of our supply chain companies and stakeholders before the dinner, so they could brief her first-hand on some of the opportunities and challenges they have currently.”
Since the MAA dinner, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget and spending review announced that the government would continue to “support world-class R&D in the aerospace sector, co-investing with industry. The government is extending its long-term commitment to the aerospace sector, guaranteeing funding for the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) to 2031.” This is good news for the aerospace industry, which is awaiting further details.