As this issue of the magazine goes to press the chancellor George Osborne – flushed with success following his up-beat Autumn Statement (and the sight of shadow chancellor Ed Balls going purple with impotent rage) – is paying a visit to the Tories’ favourite industrialist, Baron Bamford of Daylesford. JCB, in other words.
Both gentlemen have much to be pleased about. Osborne ends 2013 on a high, having been able to reveal that growth forecasts have doubled and that the UK now has one of the fastest-growing economies. He reckons the government will see a cash surplus in 2018.
Meanwhile Lord Bamford has had an excellent year, one he started by celebrating the production of JCB’s 1,000,000th machine and ended by announcing that his company is to build two new factories and create 2,500 new jobs.
As you will see if you turn to page 53 of this issue, JCB has also been celebrating the 60th anniversary of its first backhoe loader – a type of machine which the company claims its founder, Joseph Cyril Bamford, invented.
We can be fairly sure that Osborne and Bamford were feeling pretty pleased with each other as they toured JCB’s Rocester HQ. The bonhomie must have been quite overpowering. But they’re not the only people ending 2013 on a high.
Throughout this year, we have seen the UK economy set on a steady course for recovery. The house-building industry has really taken off and as we report on page 14, November was the most productive month for new work - almost £3.5bn worth - since 2008.
Of course this is no cause for complacency – there’s still much to be done – but it’s fair to say that as an industry we leave 2013 in much better shape than when we started.
So a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. You’ve earned it.
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