With the election votes counted, it’s all change in the world of politics.
The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) is already planning to see the key players, in particular the business secretary, the head of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the culture minister, as their departments most directly impact on our industry.
In addition, we will be circulating all the new and returning MPs with a briefing note about the fashion and textile sector and its specific needs. Political lobbying is going to be very important, particularly as the new government looks to balance the books of UK plc. Obviously, we want to ensure the industry is not subjected to any additional financial or legislative burdens, while being in the best position to take advantage of any support.
With exports playing a significant part in the growth and future security of suppliers, we will be looking at the new government to at least maintain the level of funds available in the UKTI’s Tradeshow Access Programme and not to make any changes to the rules for the 2011/12 tax year. A survey of the top markets cited by entrants to this year’s UKFT Export Awards revealed that Japan is just behind the US in importance. This is not surprising, given that Japanese consumers not only love our products, but also because most Japanese buyers pay before delivery. This has helped cash-strapped producers who have had to self-finance their businesses, as the banks have been less than forthcoming. Easier access to finance is desperately needed.
In the run-up to the election, the major parties declared their desire to see manufacturing increased and commitment from the banks to start reinvesting.
We hope the government will back talk with action.
Peter Lucas is chairman of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT)