A strong manufacturing base is essential for a balanced economy, where exports and investment drive growth, not debt and unsustainable government spending. The Government is committed to supporting this important industry which contributes £150 billion per year to our economy.
I could not agree more on the importance of developing strong supply chains. This is essential if we want major manufacturers to invest in this country. The Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative is helping build manufacturing capacity and ensure more components can be sourced in the UK. This initiative supports research and development, skills training and capital investment.
Some £213 million government and industry investment was announced earlier this year to strengthen supply chains, creating and safeguarding over 16,000 jobs. The modernised manufacturing advisory service also provides specialist and technical advice to help manufacturing enterprises grow. One sign of progress is that, for the first time since the 1970s the UK is again a net exporter of cars.
Manufacturers also need the right people, with the right skills, in the right places within their business. There has been a record number of young people taking up apprenticeships, including advanced higher apprenticeships.
Innovation is crucial, which is why the Government is spending £4.6 billion each year supporting outstanding science research. This will bring new ideas and manufacturing opportunities for the future.
I firmly believe manufacturers should open their doors to show young people what Britain makes and the diversity and opportunity that exists in modern high-tech manufacturing and I am pleased the Government has made this a priority.
In addition, for two years there will be a tenfold increase in Annual Investment Allowance in plant and machinery. This means that instead of £25,000 worth of investment being eligible for 100 per cent relief, £250,000 worth of investment will now qualify. This will cover the total annual investment undertaken by 99% of all the business in Britain and, coupled with a further 1p cut in corporation tax this is a huge boost to those running a business and who wish to expand and create jobs.
It is absolutely vital that, as a Government, we continue to support manufacturing industry in our country