Manufacturers remain concerned over lack of support from banks and Government

MORE than a third of UK manufacturers are confident of strong growth this year, according to a new survey, but many remain concerned about the continuing eurozone crisis, a lack of support from banks and the absence of a clear Government strategy for the sector.

Nine out of 10 firms taking part in the survey believe the manufacturing sector remains neglected at Government level while competitor economies such as Germany, Norway and Japan reap the benefits of continued investment in their industries.

The MHA Manufacturing & Engineering Survey sought the views of nearly 150 manufacturers and engineers across the UK, with an encouraging 33% predicting growth of more than 10% this year.

The survey is conducted by the MHA Group, an association of independent accountancy firms across the UK, including Larking Gowen in East Anglia.

“The survey gives a good snapshot of our manufacturing industry at the beginning of 2012,” said David King from Larking Gowen.

“The results we see locally mirror those at a national level and many respondents are questioning why manufacturing and engineering are seen as the poor relation when it comes to choosing a career. Others complain about a lack of Government initiatives, and the need for more help with investment.

“Despite this there is some very good news,” he added. “Around 60% are planning to take on apprentices this year and nearly half are planning for capital expenditure - subject to access to funding from their banks.

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“While there is Government funding available for recruiting apprentices, only 20% of those taking them on plan to take advantage, many saying the red tape involved is a major barrier to applying.

“Larking Gowen’s view is that it is vital for manufactures in East Anglia to continue to invest in new plant and research & development along with staff with the right skills because of the significant benefits it will bring. Not doing so could threaten competitiveness over the long term.”