News story: Sarah Bedwell announced as the new Certification Officer

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today (11 December) announced the appointment of Sarah Bedwell as the new Certification Officer.

The Certification Officer is responsible for statutory functions relating to trade unions and employers’ associations.

Sarah Bedwell will take up her role on 1 January 2018, replacing Gerard Walker, who has held the post since June 2016.


Sarah Bedwell has been the Director of Regulation at the Human Tissue Authority since 2011. Prior to this, she was the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Governance and Registration at the Nursing and Midwifery Council between 2008 and 2011 and Deputy Chief Executive from 2010 to 2011, the Head of Governance at the General Medical Council between 2002 and 2008 and Head of Screening between 1998 and 2002, and Head of Legal and Fiscal Framework at the Charity Commission between 1995 and 1998.

News story: Results of first survey of thousands of heat network consumers

The government has today published the findings of the first survey of heat network consumers. It asked about their satisfaction with their heating system, price and transparency of billing, and customer service.

A heat network takes heat from a central source and delivers it to a number of buildings. There are around 17,000 heat networks in the UK, with some of the largest networks at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Expansion of the heat networks market is a key part of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, but strong consumer protections are needed to ensure that customers can be confident in their heating supply as the market develops.

Our survey was carried out by independent researchers between April and July 2017 and received over 5,000 responses. The survey results suggested that, while there was significant variation in the prices paid by heat network consumers, on average they were likely to pay less than non-heat network consumers.

The survey also shows that while there are issues affecting the sector that need addressing, heat network consumers were just as satisfied overall with their heating systems as non-heat network consumers.

Consumers on Heat Trust registered schemes (the voluntary industry-led consumer protection scheme) in general received more comprehensive billing information, and service interruptions tended to be rectified quicker, in line with the Heat Trust’s service standards.

Claire Perry, Minister for Climate Change and Industry said:

As we set out in our Clean Growth Strategy, encouraging the uptake of heat networks is an important way to reduce carbon and cut heating bills for customers.

This survey of consumers provides an important evidence base as we seek to expand the use of heat networks from now to 2021.

The projects that the government supports through the Heat Network Investment Project must meet Heat Trust equivalent standards, comparable to those provided to customers of gas and electricity, as well as meet minimum technical standards in terms of performance and efficiency of systems. Membership of these schemes is voluntary for existing heat networks.

The government will feed in the results of the survey to the Competition and Markets Authority which announced today that it is carrying out a market study into the heat networks sector. The heat networks industry is also developing proposals to protect consumers and lower risk for investors which will be published in 2018.

News story: Anthony Browne appointed to the Regulatory Policy Committee

The RPC provides the Government with external, independent scrutiny of new regulatory and deregulatory proposals.

Anthony Browne brings a wealth of expert business experience to the position, having previously held the roles of Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association, Head of regulatory affairs at the US investment bank Morgan Stanley, co-founder of the HomeOwners Alliance and Director of the Policy Exchange.

Minister for better regulation Lord Henley said:

High quality regulation is essential for ensuring robust and effective policy-making. The Regulatory Policy Committee plays an integral role in providing stakeholders with confidence that the costs and benefits of regulatory change have been properly considered.

Anthony brings decades of leadership and experience in regulatory reform and I am delighted to see him appointed to this position.

Chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee Anthony Browne said:

It is in everyone’s interest that the UK has regulation that both promotes growth and jobs, and protects the interests of society.

Never has getting regulation right been more important than now and I very much look forward to doing my part to help ensure the UK has regulation that is fit for purpose.

News story: New chairman appointed for the Central Arbitration Committee

Business Minister Margot James has today (30 November) announced that Stephen Redmond has been appointed as chairman of the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The CAC encourages fair and efficient arrangements in the workplace by resolving collective disputes in England, Scotland and Wales, either by voluntary agreement or, if necessary, through a legal decision.

Mr Redmond, a former NHS Human Resources Director, takes over from Sir Michael Burton.

Biography – Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond is an experienced human resources and organisational development professional and was one of four national HR Directors for the NHS in the UK. Stephen has worked in central and devolved government, the NHS, health and social care and the mining industry. He has worked internationally for the British Government in developing countries and as a consultant in Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Mr Redmond’s previous appointments include Independent Panel Chair at the Judicial Appointments Commission, Independent Chair of the Doctor’s and Dentist’s Disciplinary Appeals Panel, Non-Executive Director at The Coal Authority, Fitness to Practice Chair at the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Member at the Judicial Investigation and Conduct Office.

News story: Government and industry cement deal to give UK construction the edge

  • Business Secretary announces flagship deal that could add billions of pounds in value to the UK economy through delivering better homes and infrastructure
  • government will invest £170 million in the Transforming Construction programme with industry committed to match-funding with a £250 million investment
  • the transformative Sector Deal will help modernise the industry and recruit and train the next generation of high-skilled construction workers
  • deal will look to deliver a substantial boost to the skills of current workers and help retrain workers, alongside a new National Retraining Scheme

A transformative deal between government and the construction industry which could add billions of pounds to the economy has been announced by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark today (29 November 2017).

Government and industry have worked extensively since the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper to agree the Sector Deal, developing a joint strategic direction for the sector that reflects shared ambition to modernise the industry and to respond to the challenges of demographic change and Brexit.

The deal, announced in the Industrial Strategy white paper on Monday (27 November), will prepare the UK construction sector for the future, helping companies build better performing buildings and infrastructure at a greater speed and reduced cost, while supporting the government’s ambitious programmes in both infrastructure and housing.

By transforming the sector through better adoption of digital and manufacturing technologies the Construction Sector Deal aims to deliver quality infrastructure and housing more quickly, and at reduced cost to the taxpayer, while boosting the skills of construction workers and training the next generation of workers.

Supported by £170 million of government investment over three years through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and £250 million of match funding from industry, the deal will bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors in a new hub to commercialise technologies capable of building assets which are both cost effective and energy efficient.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

Our construction industry makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and is one of our most important sectors, with businesses that add £138 billion a year to the economy, contribute 8% of our GDP, and employ over 3.1 million workers.

The Sector Deal we have announced today will see government and industry working together to support, invest and transform the construction sector, creating high-skilled and well-paying jobs, while delivering more housing for people across the country.

The agreement embodies our vision for a modern Industrial Strategy, with government and industry working together in a strategic partnership towards the common goal of higher productivity, and a more skilled construction workforce with more earning power.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said:

I am delighted that construction has been included in the first wave of sector deals. It presents a huge opportunity for one of the UK’s largest industries and the broader economy.

With a projected £600 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects to be delivered over the coming decades, it is vital that the industry and government work together to realise the full potential of the deal.

We have a golden opportunity to reap economic gains from improved productivity and the more efficient construction of assets, creating high-skilled, well-paid jobs in all parts of the UK and driving up exports to the global infrastructure market.

Tony Meggs, Chief Executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) said:

This government has ambitious plans for infrastructure over the next decade. It is vital that the construction sector is modern and efficient in the way it delivers these plans. Only then will we see future investment continue to flow and make progress in closing the UK’s productivity gap.

The IPA very much supports this Construction Sector Deal; we will support and align with industry as it implements the programme.

Approach to skills

The announcement follows the launch of the Industrial Strategy white paper yesterday by the Business Secretary, setting out a long-term plan for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity challenge, positively embrace technological change, and support businesses and its workers.

With a clear emphasis on building skills for the future, the deal commits the sector to adopting a new strategic approach to skills development, ensuring that standards and qualifications for the skills needed, now and in the future, are developed, and industry is able to use all sources of funding effectively. This will deliver:

  • a reformed Construction Industry Training Board, with greater industry leadership and engagement, focused on delivering future skills needs – particularly amongst SMEs
  • a co-ordinated approach to maximising the benefits of the Apprenticeship Levy – creating new apprenticeship trailblazers, and increasing the number of construction apprentices
  • a unified and more effective industry approach to promoting construction careers, and removing barriers to employment in the industry; this help the sector to recruit, train and retain a more diverse workforce, with higher levels of professional and technical levels, and management skills

Through the Sector Deal the industry will also be working with government to produce a Construction Skills Strategy aimed at retaining and retraining a workforce that is fit for the future and able to deliver on the government’s infrastructure and housing ambitions.

To help upskill construction workers and retrain them in new valuable skills, the government announced in its Industrial Strategy white paper that it would be launching a new National Retraining Scheme that will help make sure workers have the right skills to match employer’s needs, beginning with a £64 million investment for digital and construction training.

Government has also set out its ambition to make the UK’s technical education system as prestigious as its higher education. In the recently published T level action plan, government announced that construction will be one of the first of 4 T levels to be taught from 2020.

Sector Deal objectives

With the sector focused on delivering on these 3 key themes, the deal has 4 clear objectives that it is committed to achieving by 2025:

  • 33% reduction in the cost of construction and the whole life cost of assets
  • 50% reduction in the time taken from beginning-to-end of new build and refurbished assets
  • 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
  • 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports of construction products and materials

Centre for Digital Built Britain Programme

Government has also today announced the launch of the Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge. The new centre, which forms part of the ‘Transforming Construction’ Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investment, will develop Building Information Modelling (BIM), sensors, data analytics and smart systems technologies that can be embedded in new building projects.

The Centre for Digital Built Britain Programme, first announced in the 2016 budget, will deliver reductions in whole-life costs and carbon emissions of buildings, whilst improving construction productivity and capacity by using intelligent building information models, sensing technology and secure data and information infrastructure.

Building for 2050

Government is also investing £1.4 million in a research project called ‘Building for 2050’. Led by AECOM, this project is gathering evidence from 3 housing developments located in Swansea, Bristol and Manchester with the aim of uncovering the barriers to developing low cost, low carbon housing.

The project will test innovative methods of construction and will involve working closely with households throughout the project to track their views, and to report on progress as we seek to reduce the environmental impact of UK homes by 2050.

Full details of the Sector Deal agreement between industry and government will be published on GOV.UK in the coming weeks.

News story: UK space launch programme receives £50 million boost in Government’s Industrial Strategy

Updated: Included hyperlinks to other usful resources.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the plans today (Monday 27 November) as he launched the Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy. This sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and support businesses and workers.

The £50 million programme, which builds on the £99 million already invested in the National Satellite Test Facility at Harwell, will help UK spaceports access a global market for launching small satellites worth £10 billion over 10 years, and offer low gravity flights to advance cutting-edge science.

UK Space Agency Chief Executive, Graham Turnock, said:

“The ambition of our LaunchUK programme is for a home-grown market for spaceflight which will give businesses across the country access to exciting new opportunities.

“This £50 million boost from the Industrial Strategy will help the UK Space Agency continue working with the industry to develop new technologies, infrastructure and services, to establish the UK as a world leading destination for space launch.”

The UK Space Agency is working with industry to grow the UK’s share of the global space market from 6.5% to 10% by 2030. To achieve this, companies must be able to pursue new commercial opportunities from the UK, which offers an excellent location for space launch, with a world-leading small satellite industry, access to in-demand orbits, and reputation for regulatory excellence.

The Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority and UK Space Agency are working together to legislate to enable a comprehensive regulatory environment for these activities with the Space Industry Bill currently going through Parliament. Several sites in England, Wales and Scotland have so far come forward with spaceport plans. A series of LaunchUK roadshows are currently touring the country to explore how the market can develop, what opportunities it offers for new supply chains, and how the benefits can be delivered across the country.

The Government has also provided further guidance today for sectors such as space, which are developing sector deal proposals, and intends to announce negotiations for new deals in the New Year.

News story: Modern Industrial Strategy to boost business support for Scotland

UK Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce the review as part of the UK Government’s ambitious modern Industrial Strategy, which will drive growth across Scotland, boosting skills and improving productivity and infrastructure.

The review of business support, to be conducted in partnership with the Scottish Government, will improve both the consistency and impact of government support to businesses in Scotland, including helping Scottish business access UK supply chain contracts.

Today’s Industrial Strategy white paper sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boast the earning power of people across the UK.

The White Paper follows extensive engagement by Government with industry, academia and business bodies who submitted almost 2,000 responses to the Green Paper consultation earlier in 2017.

The White Paper focuses on the five foundations of productivity – ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places – with a clear and complementary vision for each.

Visiting Glencairn Crystal Studio Ltd in East Kilbride to mark the launch of the Industrial Strategy, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

Scotland has a world-renowned reputation for industrial success and innovation, and today’s Industrial Strategy will build on that. It will mean that Scottish businesses can continue to grow and thrive.

We know that some businesses can struggle to get the support they need to grow their businesses effectively, and the current system of support can be inconsistent across the country. The review we are announcing today will ensure Scottish businesses get a more coherent, effective system of support.

UK Government Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

The birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell and Sir Alexander Fleming, Scotland has always made a vital contribution to the UK’s society and its economy. The Government’s new Industrial Strategy is designed to build on Scotland’s economic strengths within the UK as a whole, creating more opportunities, boosting earning power and increasing our productivity.

Scotland has huge economic strengths, including in financial services, life sciences, higher education and research, quantum technologies and advanced manufacturing. We believe that a really effective Industrial Strategy should build on those capabilities, and help create new ones.

Our Industrial Strategy white paper provides us with a landmark opportunity for the UK to make fresh choices about how its economy develops.

In the Strategy, the government has identified four Grand Challenges; global trends that will shape our rapidly changing future and which the UK must embrace to ensure we harness all the opportunities they bring. The four are:

  • artificial intelligence – we will put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution.
  • clean growth – we will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth.
  • ageing society – we will harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society.
  • future of mobility – we will become a world leader in the way people, goods and services move.

Each Grand Challenge represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society to work and engage with the government to innovate, develop new technologies and ensure the UK seizes these global opportunities.

To deliver the Strategy, the UK Government has committed to working closely with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations to improve productivity and drive prosperity.

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information contact the press office on 0131 244 9028.
  2. Founded in 1981, Glencairn Crystal Studio has an international reputation for fine bespoke crystal and glassware and is the largest supplier of crystal to the Scottish Whisky industry in the UK and Ireland, as well as supplying products to over 60 countries
  3. Scotland Office Minister Lord Duncan will also be visiting M Squared in Glasgow on Monday. A leading force in the laser and photonics sector has seen consistent year-on-year growth since the BGF (Business Growth Fund) initial investment of £3.85m in 2012, more than doubling its revenues every two years since then.

News story: Government announces landmark campaign to inspire next generation of engineers

The government has announced that it will work with hundreds of industry partners to make 2018 the Year of Engineering – and today (16 November 2017) pledged to work with them to offer a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering to young people throughout the year.

Teaming up with a diverse range of partners – covering everything from technology, healthcare and food production to energy, culture and transport – the campaign aims to galvanise industry, MPs, parents and teachers in a national push to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Activities will include large-sale outreach programmes, such as a £1 million investment from Shell in the interactive Tomorrow’s Engineers Energy Quest programme for thousands of schoolchildren, a children’s book on engineering from publisher Usborne, and behind the scenes tours for families. The campaign will also highlight the role that individuals can play – from parents helping children with their maths homework or enrolling them in a coding club, to engineers from all backgrounds sharing their experience and advice in schools or via social media.

Year of Engineering partner animation

The commitment comes as the UK faces an estimated shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates a year, with half of companies in the sector saying the shortage is having a significant impact on productivity and growth. By bringing young people from all backgrounds face to face with engineering experiences and role models, the campaign aims to showcase the creativity and innovation of engineering careers and widen the pool of young people who consider the profession, diversifying a workforce that is 91% male and 94% white.

Partners including Siemens, the Science Museum Group, Ocado, Usborne, BAE Systems and Crossrail have already pledged their support. Teaming up with these and hundreds of other partners, the government will deliver a year of UK-wide school visits, exhibitions and open doors events – all aimed at encouraging young people and their parents to take a closer look at engineering.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said:

Engineering is one of the most productive sectors in our economy, but a lack of young people entering the profession is damaging growth. With major investment being made in infrastructure and new technologies that aim to improve the way we travel, work and live, it’s crucial to the nation’s success that more people join the profession.

This Year of Engineering is our commitment to transforming perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and their teachers. We need people from all backgrounds to see the creativity, opportunity and value of engineering careers.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clarke said:

Engineering makes a significant contribution to our economy and this government is determined to strengthen it further. To ensure we have a high-skilled economy that is fit for the future, our industrial strategy is committed to helping people and businesses by boosting engineering and ensuring everyone has the skills needed to thrive in a modern economy.

Education Minister Anne Milton said:

As Minister for Skills, I want to see young people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers and jobs in engineering whether they choose an academic or technical route. Through the Year of Engineering, we will work with businesses to inspire the next generation of world-class engineers.

For our country to thrive and prosper with the highly-skilled individuals that businesses need we must work with employers to tackle the skills gap. The Year of Engineering will help to address the shortages of engineers that have long held us back as an economy.

An introduction to the Year of Engineering

The Year of Engineering launches in January 2018. To find out more, visit the Year of Engineering partner website or follow the campaign on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #inspireanengineer to discover how parents, teachers, engineers and organisations can inspire the next generation of budding engineers.

Year of Engineering enquiries

News story: New support for tech to boost public sector productivity

Vital public services will benefit from a fund launched today (15 November 2017) to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to come up with smart solutions to fix public sector problems.

A dedicated new GovTech Catalyst team will operate at the heart of government and oversee a new £20 million fund to help tech firms deliver innovative fixes to public sector challenges, which could include reducing traffic jams, freeing up teachers’ time and improving the experience of patients visiting their GP.

The team will boost productivity by helping public bodies – such as the NHS or local councils – identify challenges they face that could be solved by new digital technologies.

Tech firms bidding to the fund will have free reign to create truly innovative fixes. Those successful will receive funding to cover their research and development costs.

The new Catalyst team will act as a ‘front door’ to tech firms, giving them a clear access point where they can put forward their innovative ideas.

Once a finalised product is created, the public sector body can then choose to buy it from the tech company.

Not only will the public body receive an innovative, bespoke solution enabling them to tackle their challenge head on, but their stamp of approval will also help tech firms to attract global interest.

Using emerging technology in this way will boost Britain’s status as a world leader in digital innovation, and by removing barriers to productivity, will save time and reduce costs – helping to deliver outstanding public services for citizens.

Announcing this fund, Chancellor Philip Hammond said:

Britain is a world leader in digital innovation with some of the brightest and best tech-firms operating in this country. Working with us, they can provide technological fixes to public sector problems, boost productivity, and get the nation working smarter as we create an economy fit for the future.

The £20 million GovTech Fund will support delivery of the government’s Industrial Strategy by stimulating innovation in the economy, driving the development of the UK’s growing GovTech sector, and provide more opportunities for businesses to access public procurement opportunities.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

GovTech has the potential to transform public services through new innovative products and cutting-edge technologies that are both entrepreneurial and efficient.

Our investment in GovTech will help deliver a significant boost to this growing sector while delivering on our ambition set out in the Industrial Strategy of driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.

President of techUK, Jacqueline de Rojas said:

Many tech business and entrepreneurs have great ideas that could revolutionise our public services but struggle to navigate their way through the public sector to get those concepts off the ground. The GovTech Catalyst scheme will create a ‘front door ’into the public sector for tech businesses with exciting new ideas and solutions that would otherwise get lost.

This is a great initiative that could help to drive better, more efficient user-led services for people across the county. techUK looks forward to working with the Catalyst team to help get more creative tech solutions into the public sector.

Further information

The GovTech Fund will support public bodies to meet the costs of issuing competitions to the tech market and supporting research and development on a match-funded basis. Further information about the funding arrangements will be available in due course.

The GovTech Fund will be made available from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

News story: £30 million for business and graduate partnerships

Innovate UK has announced an extra £30 million of funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which connect UK businesses with an academic or research organisation and qualified graduate to work on innovation projects.

It will allow significant expansion of the KTP programme. Currently, there are 630 graduates and post-doctoral researchers employed in KTPs. These include industrial research and development and entrepreneurial roles.

This funding comes from government’s National Productivity Investment Fund. It will help to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent necessary for a growing innovation economy.

The investment was announced today at Innovate 2017.

Ella’s Kitchen: transforming the organic baby food market

Businesses of all sizes

Businesses that have previously taken part in KTPs include Dyson, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. Baby food brand, Ella’s Kitchen, has run 3 schemes, working with the University of Reading.

The majority of KTPs are made up of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - around 80% of all those run.

Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said:

Through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, businesses of all sizes are partnering with our world-leading academics and researchers to learn how new skills and thinking can increase their competitiveness and productivity, and this extra funding will ensure even more UK businesses continue to innovate and grow.

By putting science, research and innovation at the heart of our Industrial Strategy, and emphasising the benefits of commercialising research, we are building on our strengths in R&D and delivering benefits across the country.

Stimulating innovation and producing successful outcomes

Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive, said:

We are committing significantly more funding this year on KTPs. This enables an increase to the scheme, with additional KTPs becoming more closely aligned to Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas.

Companies that have used KTPs know their development value in bringing in excellent staff with cutting-edge academic knowledge. The current tried-and-tested model is widely recognised - and proven over 40 years of operation - for its excellence in stimulating innovation and producing successful outcomes.

There are many innovative companies, particularly SMEs, which could benefit from the academic mentoring that a KTP provides.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at Northumbria University