EEF – Industry welcomes Queens Speech

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Digital economy and infrastructure commitments vital

Commenting on the Queen's Speech, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "The Government's legislative agenda will have an important bearing on the operating environment for businesses. In particular, if industry is to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution it is critical that we have a world class digital and physical infrastructure in place, together with the highly skilled people who can deliver it."

On the Digital Economy Bill, Terry Scuoler, said: "As manufacturers seek to take advantage of the technologies that will drive a fourth industrial revolution it is critical that government acts to ensure that businesses have access to world class digital infrastructure. This Bill will lay the groundwork to ensure that businesses have access to more cost effective and more reliable and resilient digital infrastructure than at present. A specific universal service obligation for businesses is central to this ambition.

On the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, Terry Scuoler, said: "Manufacturers welcomed the establishment of a new National Infrastructure Commission as part of a government wide drive to make sure the UK's infrastructure is fit for the future. The enabling legislation in this Bill is now the next big step in creating a Commission that is equipped to provide an independent assessment of our national infrastructure, identify where future challenges may arise given demographic and economic changes and set out where the focus of future investment should be.

On the Higher Education and Research Bill, Terry Scuoler, said: "Government is right to focus on driving quality of teaching if the UK's position as a global leader in higher education is to be retained. This Bill will provide an important focus on Student outcomes and learning gain, which is of particular importance to employers. The new teaching excellence framework should, therefore, be heavily weighted towards this. Employers will put their full support to the government's wider plans to publish employment outcomes and earnings data of graduates.

"Manufacturers are crying out for graduate talent to fill their job roles but can't always attract a sufficient number of applicants to fill these vacancies. Knowing that there are numerous and prosperous career opportunities in manufacturing will hopefully drive more candidates through manufacturers' doors."

On the Pensions Bill, Terry Scuoler, said: "Master Trusts often provide better outcomes for employees, giving them the opportunity to benefit from larger pension schemes which smaller employers often struggle to provide. Whilst members of these schemes need adequate protection, and the schemes themselves need adequate supervision, we must not lose sight of the fact that scale in pension provision is good for members. Master Trusts should also be encouraged for a class of employer unable to provide workplace pensions on any scale.

"Exit charges, in keeping with other charges also need to be realistic and proportionate, and not act as a barrier to members maximising their pension outcomes from their own pots. The merger of the current advisory services will be good news for scheme members, providing consistency with the benefits of combined resources."

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