Manufacturers ignore political uncertainty and keep foot on the pedal

Manufacturing firms are ignoring the ongoing political uncertainty gripping the UK by pressing ahead with investment and recruitment, a new report shows.

Research by the EEF among almost 400 manufacturers found their orders books and output were "healthy".

They reported a continued improvement in global demand and a pick-up in the UK market, with the EU in particular offering good prospects for growth.

The EEF said the importance of European markets showed it was essential the Government seeks a Brexit agreement which maintains trading arrangements.

Ms Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist, said: "Manufacturing activity stepped up a gear through 2017, providing industry with some decent momentum coming into this year.

"The importance of a buoyant global economy to export-focused manufacturing sectors is again reinforced, with growing overseas demand encouraging international manufacturers to ramp up their investment which in turn is spurring particularly strong activity in UK capital goods sectors.

"While this will help top line growth in UK industry and the wider economy, it's also important that the global race to increase investment and adopt new technology is not one in which the UK is left behind.

Tom Lawton, of business advisers BDO LLP - which helped with the study, added: "Throughout 2017, the UK manufacturing sector proved itself to be remarkably resilient and delivered a strong overall performance and it is promising to see this is being continued into the first quarter of 2018.

"With healthy output and order balances and growing export demand, manufacturers are continuing to recruit and invest - providing a much needed boost to the UK economy."