Industry reactions to 2024 general election

As Labour wins a landslide victory in the UK general election, what is the industry's reaction to this and how will the manufacturing sector change under this new government?

After 14 years in power, the Conservatives have lost in a disastrous defeat against the Labour party. The Conservatives lost around 250 seats with Labour winning by a landslide - with over 211 seats secured. 

The country's soon-to-be Prime Minister, Keir Starmer said in his election victory speech this morning: "The Labour Party is ready to  restore Britain to the service of working people."

With Labour's promises of economic growth, delivering clean energy and building a more resilient economy for manufacturers - how has the industry responded to this win? And are manufacturing experts sceptical about the future of manufacturing in a Labour government.

Tony Hague, CEO of UK-based electronics manufacturer PP Control & Automation (pictured on right), said: “There was no real surprise with today’s election result. Conservatives have paid a heavy price for many years of ineffectiveness, personified by the Liz Truss mini budget that rocked the economy and left many of us still paying the financial price. After 14 years of the same government, a change was almost inevitable.

Tony Hague

In truth, the current Labour manifesto is fairly central and balanced, albeit the concern of increased taxes is always there.

From a UK manufacturing perspective, we await with interest what positive steps they may take in the short and long-term. Some relatively easy decisions that could have a big impact, include a revised R&D policy, a review on Corporation Tax and more sustained support for SMEs around export.

Now the election is over, we must see positive and bold action from the Bank of England, and this should start with interest rate cuts to stimulate the economy and reduce the cost of borrowing.

Personally, I would welcome some real incentives around the housing market. If we see a strong construction sector, the rest of the economy generally follows.”

Stephen Morley, President of the Confederation of British Metalforming (CBM), the trade association for UK manufacturers of fasteners, forgings and pressings, cold-rolled and sheet-metal products said: "My first bit of advice to our new Prime Minister is to stop telling everyone that your dad was a ‘toolmaker’ and your family were poor. This is putting young people off following a career in manufacturing, a career that can be well paid and take you all over the world. We need more toolmakers, designers, quality engineers, procurement specialist and CNC operators and it will give you a good life!

Like many in our sector, we would love to see a long-term Industrial Strategy that plays to the UK strengths and acknowledges the challenges we face. Ideally, we’d like to see something that is cross-party or has a Royal Charter that ensures longevity regardless of the political persuasion.

A dedicated Minister for Manufacturing is a campaign the CBM has added our voice to and could be an early win if Labour wanted to show a willingness to place new importance on a sector that drives innovation, supports GDP and creates high-skilled jobs. There must, however, be a clear recognition of SMEs and a desire to look past the B5 lobbying groups, giving a vital part of the economy the recognition it deserves.

Steve Morley

The impact of leaving the EU continues to bring widespread disruption to UK manufacturing, yet not one party in the lead-up put forward a potential resolution. This is something that Starmer needs to address urgently.

Finally, skills…skills…skills. We urgently need a review of the Apprenticeship Levy and how funding in this pot can be spent. There needs to be more creativity and an ability to allow manufacturers to spend it on different types of technical courses that they specifically need and will create the employees they require.

There is also an argument that the current funding structure doesn’t encourage training providers to support Level 2 apprentices, which traditionally is what we call foundation Level. We’re all for upskilling, but we’re missing an important rung of the engineering ladder.”

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training, commented: “To be fair to the Conservatives, they did put apprenticeships back on the map and reignite its credibility among learners, parents and employers.

This was no small feat, but now the baton has been passed to Labour to build on this evolution and there have already been some big promises leading up to this election – widening the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy would be a very welcome move for example.

Channelling further funding to schools to boost English and Maths standards is the right thing to do. Too often, young people leave without achieving these GCSEs and we have to step in to deliver the functional skills they require to start a pathway into vocational learning. Why should we have to do something in a short period of time that schools haven’t achieved in five years?

Gareth Jones

The future of skills provision will be very interesting under the new Government. In recent years, capital grants and funding have been strategically available for the right projects and the right private sector providers, and this has ensured that access to training is more employer-led, impactful and delivering the skills industry actually requires.

This must be maintained, and we can’t go back to the period where money was just given to public-owned universities and colleges.

Going forward, Labour’s manifesto states that it will push decisions on skills spend out of Westminster and into local communities to decide what they require, presumably continuing with the theme of devolution.

We would welcome this as long as the funding is open to the best providers and organisations and not ringfenced for the few.

Industry requires a long-term strategy to build trust and give companies confidence to invest. To have a strong economy we must be making product - I’ve said it for years, yet many companies are dying with their owners choosing to retire rather than succession planning. We want a strong industrial sector with pathways to jobs for all.”

Caspar Herzberg, CEO of UK-based software company AVEVA, said: “Establishing greater momentum on a successful green transition will be central to the agenda of this next government. With Labour anticipating a rapid ramp-up of renewables, digital systems will be essential to underpin information sharing and aggregate insights at scale. This, in turn, will be vital to providing the systemic innovation and agility required to drive resilience, efficiency and profitability in the net-zero transition."

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said: “I congratulate Starmer on leading his party to a decisive victory. Business will welcome such a clear result and an end to the political and economic instability of the last few years which is essential for companies to now bring forward much needed investment.

“Looking ahead, the new Government has a lot in its in-tray to address. First and foremost is the urgent need to kick start the UK’s anaemic growth levels of recent years and, boost investment in our infrastructure, without which we cannot address the many urgent priorities the Country faces at national and regional level.

Stephen Phipson

“A modern, long-term industrial strategy which tackles the skills crisis in particular will be key to delivering this growth. Manufacturers stand ready to work with the new Government and all stakeholders as a matter of urgency to help deliver this.”

A spokesperson from the Sustainable Energy Association said: "As we enter a new era with the first Labour Government since 2010, the SEA remains committed to its vision for creating healthier, warmer, and more sustainable buildings, as part of a just transition to Net Zero.

"We hope that the new Labour Government will stay true on its manifesto commitments to: Invest an extra £6.6 billion in energy efficiency upgrades for the benefit of 5 million homes; introduce greater standards for private rented homes; and offer grants and low interest loans to support investment in insulation, solar panels, batteries, and low carbon heating.

"The SEA will continue to advocate for a fabric first, technology agnostic approach to deliver buildings fit for the future, and we look forward to working with government and industry to drive real change."

EngineeringUK Chief Executive, Hilary Leevers commented: “As the new government has rightly recognised, we need to nurture a greater pool of talent in engineering and technology including more apprenticeship opportunities for young people, to meet current demand and to help our economy to thrive and to achieve our net zero goal.  

Hillary Leevers

“We have been asking for a national engineering and technology workforce strategy for some time to streamline coherent action and replace the current approach of different areas developing their own solutions in isolation, and sometimes, effectively, in competition.   

“In order to address skills shortages in the future, the workforce strategy needs to link to a comprehensive education and skills plan underpinned by enhanced careers advice in schools and an urgent solution to current STEM."

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said in a statement: "We sends its congratulations to Sir Keir Starmer on his election as Prime Minister. We look forward to working with the new government to ensure engineering plays a key role in developing solutions to the major challenges facing the UK.


"Engineering is the backbone of the UK economy, driving innovation, productivity, and competitiveness across various sectors, and contributing 32% of the total economic output of the UK.


"We recognise the many significant engineering challenges outlined in the Labour Party’s manifesto and stand ready to harness the expertise of our members, offering impartial engineering evidence and policy advice to help deliver on these critical initiatives. Together, we can ensure that the engineering sector continues to thrive and propel the UK forward."