The Government has been warned that it must act over growing risk to material supply for the UK including developing an Office of Resource Management.
In a report from EEF – the manufacturers’ organisation, it warns that the Government needs to act over escalating risk to the UK’s supply of essential materials, and says that the global growth in middle-class consumers, increased demand for all commodities and an overreliance on China for strategic supplies is leaving the UK vulnerable.
According to the report Materials for Manufacturing: Safeguarding Supply, 40 per cent of manufacturers’ operational costs are material costs and 75 per cent of manufacturers have seen material costs increase since 2000.
In the last decade, commodity price volatility has been higher than at any other time in the last 100 years, with average resource prices doubling since 2000.
Demand is also expected to rocket, but the UK’s sources of essential materials are concentrated with China the leading producer of 22 elements of strategic economic value.
While in 2010, the EU deemed 14 materials to have supply risks, EEF says this has now increased to 20 materials including those used in consumer electronics and telecoms products, engineering/construction, agriculture, aerospace and steel and aluminium production.
EEF now wants to the Government to move to mitigate materials supply risks by:
- Establishing an Office of Resource Management to strategically coordinate action across Whitehall
- Thoroughly and regularly assessing material supply risks and vulnerability
- Providing stronger incentives for resource efficiency to help overcome market failures
- Regulating waste so that we extract more economic value from what we discard.
EEF senior policy advisor Susanne Baker said: “As we approach the end of an economic era we cannot afford to be left underprepared and overexposed. Manufacturers have sounded the alarm over the growing risks to material supply and others are now picking up the clarion call. But while competitor nations are already taking evasive action, our Government is in danger of burying its head in the sand.
“Resource security is dynamic and complex. It requires a flexible response working in close cooperation with industry and other stakeholders. But key to this must be a joined-up, thought-through approach across relevant policy areas. Given how crucial material suppliers are to the UK’s wealth and economic stability, there is a clear case for a new Office of Resource Management to act as a central hub of expertise, data and stakeholder liaison and to coordinate the UK’s response to these risks.”
The full report can be viewed at http://www.eef.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/996A4DFB-A10B-4AE8-8F8A-C1E6D0D6285F/24091/EEFResourceSecurity2015.pdf