UK manufacturer confidence dips in view of ‘a long road back to anything like normal’


View of vehicles at the docks near Immingham on May 5, 2020 in Grimsby, England. During the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown new car sales have dropped 97 per cent, reportedly the lowest since the end of World War II (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
View of vehicles at the docks near Immingham on May 5, 2020 in Grimsby, England. During the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown new car sales have dropped 97 per cent, reportedly the lowest since the end of World War II (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

BRITISH manufacturers think it will take longer to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19 than just a couple of weeks ago, according to an industry survey on Friday (15).

Three-quarters do not think business will be back to normal within six months, and 36 per cent think it will take more than a year — twice the proportion two weeks ago, trade body Make UK said.

“It’s clear that it is going to be a long road back to anything like normal trading conditions and, despite the lockdown beginning to be lifted, there will be a significant impact on companies and jobs for some time to come,” said Make UK chief executive Stephen Phipson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that workplaces such as factories and building sites that had not been told to close due to the coronavirus should resume operations where it was safe to do so.

Ford said on Wednesday that it would restart production at two British engine factories on May 18.

But some businesses are unsure what health and safety measures they are required to take, in addition to facing a broader slump in demand.

Official figures on Wednesday showed factory output fell by 4.6 per cent in March, and the economy as a whole shrank by an unprecedented 5.8 per cent in what is likely to be a far bigger collapse in activity in the months when the lockdown is in full effect.

Make UK said almost 90 per cent of manufacturers were operating to some extent but more than 83 per cent had suffered a fall in orders. About 22 per cent said their order book had fallen by more than half.

The survey of 197 companies was carried out between May 4 and May 11