Government and the textiles industry must continue to work in partnership, says a new report launched yesterday by Textiles Minister Stephen Timms.

'Making It Happen' is the Textiles & Clothing Strategy Group's follow-up report to 'A National Strategy for the UK Textile and Clothing Industry' published in June 2000. It highlights progress made to date and sets out the challenges ahead if it is to remain competitive.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Textiles and Clothing Industry Forum Mr Timms said: "The UK textiles and clothing industry employs around a quarter of a million people and last year industry exports were worth £6.5 billion. It has gone though some tough times and it continues to face significant challenges ahead.

"Making it Happen acknowledges that the main thrust for long-term success must come from industry itself. It is the textile industry that has introduced a strategy to address issues facing its competitive future and government continues to support a number of ongoing initiatives helping the sector respond to these challenges".

Since the national strategy was launched Government action has included:
- £1.5m towards the £3.7m Textiles and Clothing Industry Forum supply chain initiative - making the UK supply chain faster and more effective.
- £2 million to target retraining for the industry through the strategic Training for Apparel and Textiles (STAT) programme and the establishment of a Sector Skills Council for textiles and clothing - with "Trailblazer" status.
- £1.2 million Government support for the TechniTex Faraday Partnership, which encourages collaboration between industry and HEIs on technical textile projects. - Appointing a technical textiles project co-ordinator and over £2 million of support granted since June 2000 for technical textile projects activities - with a further £1m support in the pipeline.
- Further extended support for textiles and clothing companies attending overseas trade fairs with assistance from Trade Partners UK.
- 11 E-commerce assessment studies to help Government work with industry to raise its competitiveness through exploitation of ICT.
- Help for designers through continued support to London Fashion Week and other projects aimed at retaining UK design talent in the UK and encouraging UK manufacturers to exploit the opportunities presented by design.
- Improved communications to the sector through establishing dedicated textiles and clothing contacts in the Government Offices; developing a website (www.dti.gov.uk/support/textile.htm) and running a series of "Unzipped" regional road shows to help companies access support available.