UK manufacturing performance has stabilised but remains weaker than planned

The survey of UK manufacturers found that total order books remained steady after a fall in January, whilst export orders saw a very slight improvement from the previous month. Both now stand at around average levels.

Output volumes were flat over the past three months, a very marginal improvement on the previous quarter. Expectations for production over the coming quarter are again positive, albeit only somewhat above average and a little weaker than last month’s expectations.

Manufacturers expect a small fall in average selling prices in the next three months, with the metals, food & drink and chemicals and mechanical engineering sectors all expecting a drop in prices.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said: “Demand and output have remained relatively unchanged from January’s performance. The challenging outlook for the manufacturing sector has stabilised a little, with sterling having depreciated, but Britain’s manufacturers are still facing a difficult global situation.

“Next month’s Budget gives the Government a good opportunity to give a helping hand to the manufacturing sector, by tackling the UK’s outdated Business Rates regime, and supporting investment through increasing the scope of capital allowances.

“Despite the turbulence in emerging markets, economies such as China still represent a huge opportunity for British industry. A National Exports Commission, bringing businesses, trade experts and politicians around the table to advise on the policies needed to boost our export performance, would support manufacturers in selling their goods to key markets around the globe.”