Senior decision makers within small and medium sized manufacturers have shared their views on UK Industrial Strategy and whether the UK is doing enough to build its reputation as a stable and predictable business environment.
The Core Trends
SME manufacturers across the UK have remained resilient with 57% of firms experiencing an increase in sales turnover in the past six months, up from 48% in the last survey, and 6% up from the same period last year. There has also been a noticeable jump in future turnover expectations, increasing from 59% last quarter to 66% .
An increased investment in both new technology and new machinery over the past 6 months has decreased slightly from last quarter’s survey, dipping from 44% to 42%. However, firms are forecasting increased investment within the next 6 months, with 50% expecting to increase their spend, compared to 45% last quarter.
Finally, there has been a 3% decline in the number of firms expecting to increase employment in the next six months, decreasing from 49% last quarter to 46%. However, this percentage shows there is still a significant number of businesses looking to recruit, which is good news for the sector and for the UK economy as a whole.
The Special Focus
In this quarter’s survey we sought to understand SME manufacturers thoughts on UK Industrial Strategy.
Perhaps the key finding is that a surprising 42% of respondents, don't know whether UK Industrial Strategy is built to deliver their business needs, clearly showing their is a lack of visibility and understanding amongst SME manufacturers throughout the UK.
When asked what should be the main focus for UK Industrial Strategy, R&D and Productivity were clearly high on the priority list for businesses, closely followed by Access to Growth Opportunities within the UK, Export and Operational Skills.
The overall picture seems clear - although remaining resilient, SME manufacturers are feeling disconnected from Industrial Strategy and considering SMEs make up over 90% of businesses in the UK, it is an issue that needs addressing. The budget – with additional money for disruptive technology and new T-Levels to boost technical skills – showed there is an appetite to support manufacturing and we’d urge Government to listen to SMEs as we move forward.
You can download your copy of the Q3 2016-2017 Barometer report below