The government’s business energy price cap has been widely welcomed, moves to increase UK energy security are getting underway and the Royal Navy commissions its newest submarine in this month’s news round-up.

Public sector
Transport has dominated Welsh government spending over the past five years, according to a new analysis by consultants Tussell. Topping the list is the £5 billion contract with Keolis Amey Rail to operate and develop Transport for Wales. A further £514 million was spent dualling the A465 Heads of the Valleys trunk road.

Public sector organisations will benefit from similar help with energy bills as that being provided for domestic consumers, the government has announced. The tariff has been set at £211 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas.

A £20 million programme to boost the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the UK has been launched by the government. Nine local authorities will share the pilot funding, provided jointly by the Treasury and the private sector.

“Help with soaring energy costs will come as a relief to our customers in the public sector,” said RS Industry Sector Manager Damian Wynne. “But there are always opportunities to drive efficiency savings through innovation and by deploying the right solutions.”

Utilities and power
The UK energy industry has offered to forego guaranteed premium prices currently paid to green energy suppliers to let customers benefit from lower-cost renewable energy. In a submission to the government’s review of the energy market, industry body Energy UK has offered to scrap the scheme in return for longer supply contracts.

One of the first steps to boost UK domestic energy security has been taken with the award of infrastructure contracts for Shell UK’s new Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea, 155 miles off Aberdeen. The new field was rejected by the UK offshore regulator last October, but approved in June this year in response to the global energy crisis.

“Events of recent months have shown the importance of energy security and we at RS are committed to meeting the needs of maintenance, repair and operations teams across the energy and utility sectors in the UK,” said RS Industry Sector Manager Chris Cruise.

Process manufacturing
The cost of living crisis is causing some dramatic changes to food consumers’ buying behaviour, according to a new survey. Almost a third told BBC Good Food Magazine that they had swapped from brands to supermarket own-label products, while 22% were eating more frozen foods.

As food price inflation heads towards a predicted 15% this year, food manufacturers are turning to co-manufacturing partners to cut costs and innovate, an industry analyst has said. Writing in Food Manufacture, Denis Storey of Tracegains, said own-label and branded food-makers are contracting out ingredients or whole products.

Process manufacturers are buying second-hand machinery to help keep costs down as inflation soars, according to Industrial Process News, which reports that the market for second-hand machinery is “currently lucrative – both for sellers and buyers”, driven by a shortage of raw materials and delivery issues which are slowing new sales.

“These are testing times for all process manufacturers, but we can help them reduce costs and increase productivity with our maintenance solutions,” said RS Industry Sector Manager Craig Stasik.

Britain’s manufacturers have slashed their growth forecasts. The Make UK/BDO Manufacturing Outlook survey Q3 2022 shows they are forecasting growth of just 0.6% in 2023, down from 1.7% predicted as recently as June. Almost 60% of manufacturers plan to raise prices in the next three months.

The manufacturing industry has “warmly welcomed” the announcement of an energy price cap for business users. Make UK said the scheme, announced at the end of September, was “simple to understand, giving reassurance to the business sector and making immediately available the much-needed help companies have been calling for”.

“Whatever the challenges for manufacturers, the basic job of ensuring MRO procurement is cost-effective and delivers exactly what engineers need, doesn’t change,” said RS Industry Sector Manager Richard Graham. “We’re here to help them achieve just that.”

Transport and defence
The UK space sector is a world leader in the production of small satellites and the use of space data to improve lives and better understand our planet. A new report by industry body ADS, shows that of £16.5 billion worth of sales, £5.3 billion comes from exports. The sector employs 47,000 people at locations across the UK, the report says.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre – a joint venture between the automotive industry and the UK government – has announced the 22 projects that will share £25 million from the Automotive Transformation Fund. The grants will fund research to evaluate the readiness of innovative electric vehicle projects to be scaled up to full production.

HMS Anson, the latest Astute class submarine to be built by BAE Systems, has been officially commissioned into the Royal Navy during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The nuclear-powered submarine is the fifth of seven in the Astute class of technologically advanced attack submarines.

“From electric vehicles to space science, companies need a trusted supply partner to enable them to keep building the future,” said RS Industry Sector Manager Greg Sharp. “Strong supplier partnerships are the key to successful innovation,” he added.