After a storm comes the sunshine, and that is certainly the picture emerging from the UK manufacturing sector as businesses step blinking into the sunlight after a very tough 18 months. It’s not going to be an easy task to rebuild to the position we were in in late 2019 but, despite all the dark murmurings about recessions last year, the Covid recovery has been fast and strong, with many people expecting the country to regain its pre-pandemic position by the end of 2021.
Cleaning Up After Covid
Of course, there is the matter of the enormous public spending bill that will need to be clawed back in higher taxes over the next 20 to 30 years, the first sign of this being the corporation tax increases due in 2023. However, government demands are nothing new, and what the pandemic has taught us is just how innovative SME manufacturers can be when they are unfettered and allowed to collaborate to come up with creative solutions. Businesses (and individuals) are normally okay with tax bills so long as growth remains strong and people remain free to make a livelihood without excessive interference from the state.
Optimism Is The Watchword Of 2021
After a dreary couple of years, optimism is the watchword for summer 2021. According to the latest CBI quarterly SME Trends Survey , in the first three months of 2021, the output of SMEs in the UK manufacturing industry held flat (a remarkable achievement considering the retraction in many parts of the economy) – but in the three months April to June has seen a marked improvement, something that is expected to continue as we move through the summer.
The survey spoke to owners and decision makers in 260 manufacturing SMEs and concluded that levels of optimism were growing at the fastest pace in seven years. This is despite sentiment regarding export prospects continuing to fall – fuelled by Brexit uncertainty and trade disputes with the EU – although even this residual pessimism is at much lower rate than seen over the past year.
More Orders, Faster Growth, More People In Work
If there is still a level of uncertainty over international exports, this hasn’t stopped the total volume of new orders growing throughout 2021, reflecting a rise in domestic orders. And while export orders remained flat, there hasn’t been an appreciable decline in international trade either.
The number of people in employment also increased in the three months to April, despite the lockdown. In fact, the UK economy now has a surplus of job positions, with many manufacturing businesses struggling to fill available roles – something that points back to the ongoing skills shortage and the priority that should be given to upscaling and retraining workers, especially as it is no longer always straightforward to hire from abroad.
At Hone All, despite the pandemic being tough on both businesses and individuals, we have been uplifted by the cooperative spirit that was seen among so many UK manufacturing businesses, and the level of creativity and innovation displayed by so many individuals over this time. As we move out of lockdown, our workshop is now fully open and running at full productivity, and we look forward to keeping our hands full for the rest of the year! If you would like to find out more about our services or discuss a precision engineering project, we’d be happy to help, so please give us a call today.
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