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 South West Q3 2016-2017 Barometer report below: