McLaren boss calls for manufacturing tax breaks and 'fail to win'

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has called on the UK government to use the tax system to favour both manufacturing R&D and engineering graduates who choose to work in the field.

In a speech to an SMMT Parliamentary reception last week, he said that tax concessions to employers could be used to reimburse part or all of a graduate's student loan once they have worked in a British-based science and engineering role for three years.

“Reports in recent years tell of falling numbers of UK-domiciled entrants to engineering and physical science courses at our universities, as well as a declining flow of students taking the A-levels that are the qualification routes to those degree subjects,” he said. “One of the biggest issues appears to be the drop-out from science and maths at post-16 level.”  

He added: “In a global manufacturing competitiveness report published last month by Deloitte, Britain was ranked only 17th. That puts us behind countries such as Australia, Poland and Mexico, and a full nine places behind Germany.

“Plenty of people are talking about it - saying that rebalancing is a good thing, much-needed, critical for the future, etcetera. But very few people are actually doing what we need to do in order to make rebalancing a practical reality.”

As well as extra incentives for students and apprentices to work in UK manufacturing and engineering, he said that the new government should allow companies to claim capital allowances for capital expenditure used in R&D.

And he said that companies also need to incentivise their engineering talent via share schemes, as well as encouraging them to experiment with ideas, even though many of them will fail.

“In order to succeed, we will have to be prepared to increase our failure rate! In our experience, failure is crucial to success.,” he said. “Daring to be different in order to create something truly excellent is a hallmark of Britain’s engineering and manufacturing heritage.

“However, there remains a stigma attached to failure that runs through our schools and universities, and through many companies too. We must eradicate it.”

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