Keep backing aerospace, parties urged

Aerospace is growing more quickly than the wider economy

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The Independent Online

The aerospace and defence industry is pushing for the three main political parties to commit to maintaining a government-led initiative that has boosted the sector’s exports.

Launched in 2011, the Aerospace Growth Partnership has seen the creation of a £2bn technology institute and a bursary scheme for engineering students in an effort to boost one of Britain’s most successful industries.

A report published today by the sector’s trade association, ADS Group, found that aerospace is accelerating at ten times the rate of the rest of the economy and has grown 14 per cent in three years.

ADS’s chief executive, Paul Everitt, said that this growth has been driven by the partnership, which has encouraged manufacturers to work closely on dealing with industry problems and boosting exports.

Although the partnership has been established to support aerospace for two decades, ADS wants to ensure that government funding will continue after next year’s election.

Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, said last week that Labour would continue with the partnership.

“The Aerospace Growth Partnership has been an obvious winner,” Mr Everitt told The Independent. “We’re looking for manifesto commitments from all the parties. We’re in discussion and dialogue [with leading politicians] and there is an industry desire for long-term commitments and relative certainty.

“Irrespective of the result of the election those manifesto commitments would send a very powerful signal.”

The ADS report also found that two-thirds of aerospace companies expect growth of 10 per cent or more next year, while the sector’s exports are now worth £11bn to the economy. The industry directly employs nearly 110,000 in the UK, including 3,300 apprentices and trainees.