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Is British manufacturing really in decline?

Fears of Brexit and a new general election have caused some to question the relevance and longevity of the British manufacturing industry on the world stage. Although times are tumultuous at present, manufacturing is still one of Britain’s greatest exports. 

According to a new report by MAKE UK and Santander, British manufacturing is currently flourishing. In the UK it: accounts for £192bn of economic output; employs 2.7 million people; and accounts for 44% of British exports – this places the UK as the ninth largest manufacturer in the world. Not bad for little old Blighty. 

This may come as a surprise to those who have been paying attention to the headlines recently. From Elon Musk moving his operations to Europe, to car factories closing down in droves, it appeared British manufacturing was in a bit of a tight spot, particularly because of Brexit anxiety.

These anxieties are well justified, seeing as our top seven European customers account for £236bn of our exports. British exports are however increasing all round the world, especially in rapidly developing countries such as China, so worries of our output slowing down have a counter-weight. 

Our success story is largely down the the variety of exports we offer, although transport still remains our highest earner. 

In the upcoming manifestos, UK manufacturers will surely be looking to see how the major parties will look to support the industry in the coming years. Because, although the rest of the UK has struggled to get productivity levels to pre-financial crisis levels, manufacturing has made significant progress, so it would be shortsighted for politicians to deny investment and development in the sector.

This is a growing sector of the economy, investing record sums, creating large numbers of jobs all around the country and competing strongly on the international stage.

By Rebecca Garland on 27/11/2019