‘No strategy’: West Yorkshire firms hope the budget supports industry | Business

Almost 13 years ago, at the dawn of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, David Cameron chose Salt’s Mill as the venue for his first big economic speech.

With its 250ft chimney, the Mill was a towering reminder of how the Industrial Revolution shaped economy of West Yorkshire, and an indication of the new government’s ambition.

Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne had spent the 2010 general election campaign, fought in the shadow of the global financial crisis, promising a “long-term economic plan”.

With Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable alongside him, Cameron arrived in the Conservative constituency of Shipley promising to use tax cuts and deregulation to unleash business investment – a long-term bugbear of the UK economy.

“Let’s make the next decade the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in our history – and let’s do it together. All of us, across Britain, sharing in our prosperity,” he exhorted his audience.

Yet with that decade now come and gone, Cameron’s aspiration remains a distant one: the UK continues to lag behind its peers when it comes to business investment.

Alpesh Paleja, lead economist at the CBI, says “there is a very clear picture of underperformance, particularly when we look at business investment in the UK relative to the G7, and that underperformance has persisted as far back as we have access to the data, which is the early 1980s”.


Cameron’s host in Salt’s Mill in 2010 was Pace, a homegrown electronics firm making and exporting TV set-top boxes – a technology that was largely killed off by internet streaming and now seems almost as archaic as the looms that wove reams of alpaca-cotton fabric here.

Like another much-vaunted UK tech champion, Arm Holdings, Pace floated on the London stock market, but was ultimately swallowed up by an overseas

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