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Crisis in British semiconductor sector

16 February 2023

Photo mollyw/Shutterstock.

In 2021 British manufacturers used well over a trillion chips to power devices ranging from vacuum cleaners to cars to advanced artificial intelligence computers but there is a chronic shortage amounting to a crisis.

A recent report from the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a response to the lack of government strategy for getting out of the crisis. Last December it launched a research project “to explore ideas”.

The CPS calls for tax and investment incentives for high-intensity R&D industries, flexibility in the planning system to encourage the construction of scientific infrastructure, and a strengthened focus on semiconductor policy within Whitehall.


In the foreword Conservative MP Alicia Kearns explains (with no sense of irony): “‘Industrial policy’ has remained a taboo phrase in British politics for the past 40 years…by failing to support the UK semiconductor sector we are putting British business at risk as other nations seek to build greater resilience into their own supply chains.”

That sounds good. But the CPS, a think tank co-founded by Margaret Thatcher supporting global capitalism and the “free” market, wants “improvements in the immigration system for highly skilled workers”. What we need is for the industry to train and develop British workers.