Written by: Keith Tully
Updated: 23rd June 2020
The scale of output among manufacturers across the UK contracted at its fastest pace ever during the three months to June, according to the latest figures on the subject.
Factories nationwide have been severely restricted in what activities they could carry on during the COVID-19 crisis and the scale of that disruption is now becoming clearer.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that it’s Industrial Trends Survey observed a fall in output during the three months to June that was sharper than any previously recorded since it was initially created in July 1975.
The three months to May 2020 set a new record for declines in factory output but even those numbers were exceeded by the most recently collected data.
Declines in output were seen across almost all manufacturing sub-sectors, with vehicles makers, metal producers and mechanical engineering firms reported to have led the declines in productivity seen since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Order books among exporters were tracked by the CBI at record low levels in the three months to June, with those figures having first been gathered in April 1977.
However, total orders across the manufacturing sector were up slightly compared with a month earlier, albeit the latest numbers are still very low by historic standards.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been hugely challenging for the manufacturing sector, and these figures reflect the tough circumstances faced by firms across the country,” said Tom Crotty, chair of the CBI’s manufacturing council.
“Government support measures have been a relief to the sector and have undoubtedly saved jobs during this crisis.
“As well as continuing to support the sector during the current pandemic, it is critical that the government works with firms to develop a long-term plan to grow a resilient UK manufacturing sector focused on skills, productivity, and sustainability.”
The month of April 2020 saw the sharpest decline in the UK’s headline GDP ever seen in modern times as overall output levels plunged by 20.4 per cent.
With the economy having contracted by around 6 per cent in March, statisticians have said that Britain’s GDP effectively fell by a quarter between February and the end of April.
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