UK manufacturing – expanding or declining; the truth!

After years of understating the size and importance of the UK manufacturing sector with reports that we should no longer have manufacturing because we are now a “post-industrial economy”, the truth has finally emerged.

The true size of manufacturing in the UK is more than double the size currently being reported. In addition it employs almost three times as many as current figures suggest – in higher skilled, higher productivity and better paid jobs with more security.

Recent research by the consultancy Oxford Economics for the Manufacturing Technologies Association has now identified that due to the level of outsourcing in the UK, the weight of only 10.1% contribution to GDP given in the official government figures should be 23% of GDP.

In addition the employment level is not the quoted 2.6m but is in effect 7.4m people whose job is dependent on the UK manufacturing sector. That is a completely different picture to the one usually being promulgated and makes manufacturing an area of activity that needs proper government attention and support

BMFQ has had differences with so called “experts” who denigrate manufacturing and who say that first world nations should look to outsource manufacturing to lower cost countries whilst moving up to more knowledge based economic activity.

Julian Baseley, one of the founders of BMFQ can clearly remember arguing against this on several BBC radio programmes with so called economic experts and spokespeople from the economic sections of the press and the banks.

The US, Japan and German economies have continued to benefit from manufacturing. What do we need to do to persuade the powers that be that the UK manufacturing industries should benefit from further investment with tax breaks and other incentives to continue its upwards trend?

Since the Brexit decision manufacturing is one of the only areas of economic activity that has been increasing in the UK. It is time to stop ignoring the true importance of manufacturing to the future health and wealth of this country and to start treating it with the respect it needs.

May 2018