Maritime sector response to Budget

By: Ben Murray

Manager
020 7417 2837 bmurray@maritimeuk.org

Budget

  • Disappointment at no new funding for seafarer training  

The maritime sector is the fundamental enabler of British global trade and exports its own innovative maritime products and services. 

We support just under 1 million jobs and contribute around £40bn to UK GDP

Our sector is a vital part of our island nation's heritage and of our modern economy – supporting jobs, driving innovation and enabling trade. Our sector also enables millions of people to enjoy the recreational benefits of the UK's coastal and inland waterways.

Seafarer training funding

The maritime sector is disappointed that the Chancellor did not announce funding for industry’s SMarT plus proposals.

Without investment in the SMarT scheme, which delivers a return of £4.80 to the nation’s GDP for every £1 the government spends, UK maritime could be at risk as the country fails to support the training of future seafarers. 

Seafarers then coming ashore play a hugely significant role in supporting the rest of the UK’s maritime sector. Whether in maritime service companies in the City of London, at ports, or in engineering, the skills and expertise developed whilst at sea are critical to the health and strength of the entire maritime sector.

It is not an understatement to say that a supply of qualified UK seafarers is critical to the future success of the UK as a maritime centre; a role that government has sought to promote in recent years.

Professional services, in which the UK currently leads the world, rely heavily upon former seafarers, whether in legal, insurance, broking or finance. With a number of maritime service companies weighing up their future in the UK post-Brexit, it is vital that further negative conditions – such as a reduced supply of skilled and experienced labour – do not add detrimentally to those considerations.

The Budget was a real opportunity for government to ensure that the UK has a thriving maritime sector as we prepare to leave the European Union. It also provided a valuable opportunity for government to tangibly demonstrate its support for maritime after so positively vocalising that support during London International Shipping Week.

A global trading, maritime nation

Maritime UK welcomes the government’s vision of a Britain that is outward-looking, globally connected and ambitious for its international trade prospects.

The maritime sector is responsible for facilitating 95% of the UK’s international trade, totalling £500bn each year.

Brexit

We welcome the additional £3bn to support Brexit preparatory work, and again reiterate our call for a lengthy transitional period, to be determined by the progress of negotiations, rather than arbitrary timescales.

Government must work closely with industry to agree on how best to prepare for exit, including on how to spend these additional funds.

New National Infrastructure Commission study on future of freight

We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that the National Infrastructure Commission will initiate a new study into the future of freight.

Covering congestion, environment and new technologies, the study will help identify the actions necessary to increase productivity, efficiency and the competiveness of the UK’s freight supply chain.

The maritime sector is uniquely responsible for moving 95% of UK goods and an increasing number of seaborne passengers on ferries and cruises. Getting the entire supply chain working as effectively as possible is critical to transforming Britain into a global trading nation.

We call for the government’s existing port connectivity study to be reflected within the commission’s study, and vice-versa.

Increased R&D funding

We welcome government’s increased spending for R&D and look forward to refining industry’s proposals for a world-leading research and innovation organisation, Maritime Research & Innovation UK, proposed as part of the maritime sector deal. The organisation will allow all parts of the UK’s maritime sector to push boundaries in developing the technology and business solutions of tomorrow.

The government's focus on AI is particularly welcome given the sector's work on developing maritime autonomy

Exports

Whilst we welcome the additional support for UK Export Finance – an organisation that industry finds to work well – we continue to call for additional support to boost the export of the UK’s maritime products and services.

We are disappointed that the Chancellor did not announce additional support for TAP or support for exhibitions. 

The UK’s maritime exports, covering everything from cutting-edge marine equipment and system to superyachts and business services are world-renowned. We continue to call on government to do more to support the export of British maritime priducts and services. We have the products and services that the world wants, but need strategic support to better exploit our exporting potential.

Regional growth

We welcome government’s recognition of the role regional cluster organisations can play in driving economic growth and job creation.

Whilst TechUK have been awarded £21m to create a network of regional hubs, Maritime UK is developing a regional cluster programme. The sector has a model that works, and can leverage regional support to deliver national objectives. Regional cluster organisations can play a major role in the reindustrialisation of coastal communities, driving growth through the unique collaboration of industry, academia and local government.

EIS reform

We welcome the precedent set in Enterprise Investment Scheme reform by the Chancellor. Doubling the investment limit for “knowledge-intensive” companies demonstrates that the maritime sector’s call for similar increased limits for investment in shipping is possible.

Existing EIS limits for investment in shipping are too low to be usable, and an increase of the limit would stimulate UK investment into shipping, in turn supporting the entire UK maritime sector.

Skills

We welcome the announcement of  £30m funding for digital courses using AI. The maritime sector is discussing potential huge change with automation, and Maritime UK is currently developing a Skills Strategy which will consider the likely future labour needs of a sector facing such change. We hope the fund will allow for work to assess the new skills required as ships become increasingly automated.  

North Sea tax relief

We welcome the government’s tax relief for North Sea oil and gas. The maritime sector supports the oil and gas industry, and we strongly urge that government ensure activity stimulated by the Chancellor’s tax changes benefit UK maritime businesses.


Notes on Maritime UK:

  • Maritime UK brings together the UK’s shipping, ports, marine and business services industries to promote the sector, influence government and drive growth.
  • Supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributing tens of billions to our economy, maritime is responsible for moving 95% of our international goods