Manufacturing News

UK manufacturers call for more help to ‘weather immediate storm’ | Manufacturing sector

British manufacturers have called on the Treasury to urgently provide more support amid a poor economic outlook to help “weather the immediate storm”.

Make UK, the trade body for manufacturers, and the consultancy BDO found that costs were continuing to rise and output opportunities had been stifled.

A survey revealed that two-thirds of companies (67.8%) said rising energy costs were causing catastrophic or major disruption. Meanwhile, 71.9% said increased raw material costs posed a similar threat, and 66.8% had been plagued by rising transport costs.

Finding talent has also proved challenging for firms, with vacancies at record levels, at 4.1 vacancies per 100 jobs.

Despite the chancellor saying earlier this year that he would offer support to the sector in the autumn, Make UK warned that help is needed before the summer parliamentary recess in order for businesses to “weather the immediate storm”.

Make UK made several recommendations for the government, including waiving or reducing business rates for the next 12 months and reviewing the effectiveness of business loan schemes implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.

Richard Austin, the head of manufacturing at BDO, said: “Rapidly rising input costs, ballooning energy bills and in some cases inflation-busting pay settlements have hit margins and frozen investment plans.

“There is now a strong case for government action to help UK manufacturers weather the immediate storm and incentivise investment for long-term growth.”

Stephen Phipson, the chief executive of Make UK, said: “Clearly, some of the factors impacting companies are global and cannot be contained by the UK government alone.

“However, just as it is quite rightly taking measures to protect the least well-off, given the rate at which companies are burning through their balance sheets just to survive, it must take immediate measures to help shield companies from the worst impact of escalating costs and help protect jobs.

“The government moved swiftly to implement the furlough scheme two years ago; it would be a wasted investment if the jobs saved then are lost now.”

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A government spokesperson said: “We continue to support our manufacturers, including through the tax system with the annual investment allowance and the super-deduction – the biggest business tax cut in modern British history.

“This comes on top of an increase to the employment allowance, a cut in fuel duty and an extension to schemes for energy-intensive industries to help manufacturers with higher energy bills.”

The survey of 287 companies was conducted between 16 May and 6 June.

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