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Manufacturing response to "no deal" Brexit vote

14 March 2019

Simon Howes, MD of the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS) has commented on last night’s vote on a “no deal” Brexit.

“Even with a No Deal Brexit off the table, the government must recognise the possible further harm the UK’s SME manufacturers face. An extension to Article 50 plus the continued uncertainty as MPs decide between Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit means businesses are being forced to waste resources at the risk of missing opportunities.

“The UK’s SME manufacturers make up 98% of the nation’s 80,000 or so manufacturing businesses – they are a significant contributor to the UK’s economy. However, our latest SWMAS Manufacturing Barometer survey confirms that our small and medium manufacturers are holding back on investing in machinery and premises, delaying recruitment of new staff and many are stockpiling whilst they await clarification.

“This should not be viewed as a temporary inconvenience or delay to be recovered once confidence returns. This lost opportunity is best illustrated by the Barometer’s finding that whilst some businesses (11%) are considering moving their production out of the UK many more (26%) are thinking of sourcing more of their manufacturing needs from UK based suppliers. This represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers but there is little or no focus on understanding, supporting and delivering this due to a lack of attention at all levels, from a distracted and inward-looking political system, to actual businesses who don’t have the resources to hedge or speculate by investing precious resources in multiple scenarios or things which may not actually happen. 

“SME manufacturers are tired of the political impasse and urgently need clarity on our future relationship with the EU. The damage is already being done to the sector and whilst we hear of the impact on larger firms, particularly in the UK car industry, the impact on smaller and privately owned businesses is equally as real.

“This chaos has been created by politicians and they must now come together to sort it out or further harm is certain. No more running the clock down, no more party before the people – we need real leadership, a realistic shared vision, compromise and progress. It’s not too late.”