UK manufacturer confidence at its highest level in a decade as companies hail ‘concrete signs’ of turnaround

Confidence among UK manufacturers is at its highest level in a decade as businesses hail ‘concrete signs’ of an economic turnaround.

Closely watched corporate surveys have shown that companies’ hopes for their growth prospects have been restored.

Both production and orders have improved in recent months, according to Make UK, which represents the British manufacturing sector.

Business confidence is now at level 7 – on a scale of 1 to 10. This is only the second time that confidence has been this high since the group started measuring business confidence in 2014.

The last time companies felt this optimistic was in the second quarter of 2021, when the post-Covid economy was experiencing a major recovery. Make UK said the manufacturing sector will outpace the economy as a whole this year as it is expected to grow by 1.2 percent.

Confidence: According to Make UK, production and orders have improved in recent months

The survey of 320 employers will be a boost for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before the country goes to the polls on July 4.

And it’s welcome news for companies, which are hopeful that rates will fall in the near future as inflation continues to cool.

James Brougham, senior economist at Make UK, said: ‘Finally manufacturers can see concrete signs of growth and a much brighter economic outlook.’

He added: “The next government must take advantage of this scenario by developing a modern, long-term industrial strategy that goes beyond the 2030s and has the support of all governments.”

Around 64,000 vacancies are costing the sector a shocking £6 billion in lost output per year, says Make UK.

With demand soaring and the first signs of recovery visible, more companies are planning to hire staff in the coming months.

The group wants politicians to promise to solve the skills shortage through “a fundamental overhaul” of the apprenticeship funding system and a wider training system.

Since the current apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2016, the number of new apprenticeships has fallen by 41 per cent, from 78,840 in 2015/16 to 45,970 in 2022/2023.