Optimism is growing among manufacturers

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An annual survey of UK manufacturers, supported by Lancashire accountancy firm Moore and Smalley, shows a growing willingness to plan for long term growth.

The latest SME Manufacturing Survey from MHA, the UK-wide group of accountancy and business advisory firms, paints a picture among manufacturers of growing optimism.

This is supported by continuing investment in R&D and capital expenditure, and an increase in recruitment, including a 13 per cent rise in those planning to take on apprentices. Encouragingly, 92 per cent of manufacturers surveyed said they were proactively planning for long-term growth.

However, despite nine in every 10 small and medium-sized manufacturers predicting growth in the next 12-months, more than half of these businesses still feel unable to pass on any increased costs to customers.

The survey also highlights that more than a third (36 per cent) of the same businesses are unsure how they will meet the upcoming cost of pension auto-enrolment.

Six in 10 also say that “red-tape” is getting worse, despite government pledges to reduce regulation. Energy costs also remain a major issue, the survey found.

Ginni Cooper, head of the manufacturing team at Moore and Smalley, one of nine MHA members, said: “The underlying trend is very positive for those small and medium-sized businesses operating in the manufacturing sector.”