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Uncertainty casts a shadow over UK manufacturing

Posted on 24 Sep 2020 and read 287 times
Uncertainty casts a shadow over UK manufacturingManufacturer output volumes in the three months to September fell at a slower pace than in August, according to the latest CBI monthly Industrial Trends Survey.

The survey of 277 manufacturers found that output volumes declined in 10 of 17 sub-sectors – compared with 16 sectors reporting a fall last month - with the headline drop in output driven by the motor vehicles and transport equipment sub-sector.

For the first time since April, there was no improvement in overall order books in September, with both total and export order books remaining far weaker than their long-run averages.

Looking ahead, firms anticipate that output will fall at a slower pace over the next three months. Manufacturers also expect output prices in the next three months to flatten.

Anna Leach, CBI deputy chief economist, said: “While it’s good to see that output volumes once again fell at a slower pace this month compared to August, it is disappointing to see the modest improvements in order books stall, with demand at a still weak level.

“As manufacturing firms continue to battle against headwinds from a resurgence of the virus, weak global demand and uncertainty over our trading relationships, the Government must step up its support.

“As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) comes to an end, a successor must be found, while a deal with the European Union (EU) will help underpin businesses’ resilience.”

Tom Crotty, INEOS group director and chair of the CBI Manufacturing Council, said: “Manufacturers have endured a very difficult summer and these weak activity figures are, therefore, not surprising. Firms across the country are facing considerable uncertainty as the end of the CJRS nears, and concerns about the potential for a no-deal Brexit have escalated as negotiations remain in stalemate.

“A solution to avoid a CJRS cliff-edge would be a welcome boost to manufacturers continuing to deal with the impact of Covid-19. It is also crucial that a deal is agreed with the European Union, as it is essential to support the economic recovery across the UK.”