Growth

This week FTSE 100 director’s salaries were shown to have absolutely no relation to performance, and shareholder activism is not so much a wave as a tsunami, so I think someone else may have noticed. RBS are going on an aggressive mortgage drive. While considering outsourcing small business lending, as lending trend reports show the full horror of what already faces small businesses. This while our financial centre is turned into a dumping ground for Wall Street and Europe, and the banking system’s fragility looks set to shock us all again.  Banks will be contracting their balance sheets in the next year, best case scenario. European growth predictions aren’t really great.

Which sectors are functioning? Construction? Don’t be daft. Manufacturing? Our government haven’t even noticed we have something of our industrial base left to protect. What about the layer of British businesses, affectionately known as SME? No-one has any money to service the service sector, and retail got killed by the internet. Businesses within these sectors know why they are being fucked over and they’re the ones ‘trading’ in this environment. Their trade depends very much on a real economy they cannot afford to be as oblivious to as our government and FTSE 100 roundabout.

It turns out the regional growth fund(which replaced business link, local authority small business grants, regional development agencies, and tax allowances for SME to invest in equipment to help the  private sector ‘spring back’ to replace jobs lost in public sector cuts) created jobs. In areas where the average local salary is nowhere near that, each job cost £200k to create, and the Keynes digging story is a standing joke…?

It says something that with all this Fund Managers investing in small companies, last week said they believed they would continue to see growth in this area. Which should sound like madness, but isn’t. And is not the first time this has been said. Watching how that has worked around here, it didn’t surprise me at all to see fund managers saying there is still growth in small firms. Managed decline with shopping centres is no good for anyone and this time the government weren’t planning shopping centres and we all know it.

We have watched a rapid acceleration in the rate at which heavy industrial companies have disappeared, the last of the time served engineers from Percival Whitley College reached 40, and the men who made their apprenticeships miserable now look too elderly to be terrifying.

There used to be dozens and dozens of firms around here, some with hundreds of skilled jobs each, the biggest employer is now the high school. The pool of skilled toolmakers is getting very small, long eroded by rooms of machines and semi-skilled machine operators, but even as companies disappeared one by one, we retain that industrial base in one way or another, and companies across the planet recognise the precious nature of the skills pool here. Roads between here and the other towns who used to be the UKs industrial backbone, still littered with factories struggling to survive, smaller businesses now finding they have access to manufacturing facilities, previously spoken for.  Bigger companies are prepared and using this time to invest in research, maintenance, getting their houses in order ready for the next step.

Firms aren’t rolling over and dying, they are trying to adapt while the government attempts scorched earth economics on their business environment. The owners of a local furniture manufacturer, recently making extraordinary sacrifices, so people could turn up at work on Monday and manufacturing capability be retained, trying to weather a bad patch that is largely artificially created.

The on-going death of the towns not spared by Thatcher, are a stark vision for those of us who understand that the industry that still exists around us will absolutely and blindly be laid to waste for this banking recovery strategy. People and businesses around here know that unless they ARE that growth, there is nothing coming to lift us out of this. 

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