Confidence among manufacturing firms slumps

Manufacturing confidence has fallen, a study has found Picture: ANDREW MILLIGAN/PA WIRE

Manufacturing confidence has fallen, a study has found Picture: ANDREW MILLIGAN/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Manufacturing confidence has plummeted to its lowest level in more than a year, according to a new report.

A study by business advisers BDO LLP shows a “concerning turnaround” in the sector’s fortunes, as manufacturers find themselves at the sharp end of a general slowdown in global trade and a reluctance among continental European firms to source components from the UK as a result of Brexit.

Peter Hemington of BDO LLP said: “A lack of clarity on the shape of Britain’s future trading relationships has caused a general weakening of business optimism, but it is particularly concerning to see confidence in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 8% of all jobs in the UK, descend to a 16-month low.

“The chancellor’s recent budget announcement to increase the annual investment allowance for two years will go some way to supporting small to medium sized businesses kick-start spending on fixed assets.

“However, finalising Brexit negotiations is the single most important action required to restore confidence in the British economy.”

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A government spokesman said: “We are determined to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the most competitive locations in the world for advanced manufacturing.

“We have put forward a precise and credible plan for our future relationship with the EU.

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“As part of this we have proposed a UK-EU free trade area underpinned by a common rule book on manufactured goods.

“We are confident of securing a good deal and look forward to continuing to engage with the EU Commission on our proposals.”

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