Coronavirus: Manufacturing sector may not recover until 2022 despite pivot to PPE, report claims

‘Though sobering, this detailed analysis is vital to understand how businesses can rebuild,’ say Make UK and Santander

Vincent Wood
Monday 29 June 2020 07:35 BST
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An employee works on an engine production line at a Ford factory on 13 January, 2015 in Dagenham, England
An employee works on an engine production line at a Ford factory on 13 January, 2015 in Dagenham, England (Getty)

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The UK's manufacturing sector will be unable to return to levels of growth seen before the coronavirus pandemic until 2022, a new report has predicted.

As the virus spread across the globe disrupting supply chains and straining resources, many firms responded by shifting their production lines into creating personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing signs and face masks.

However, despite efforts to support the nation through the crisis, those in the sector have accused the UK of being “culturally tone deaf” to the level of impact manufacturing has on its wellbeing.

Manufacturing group Make UK and Santander estimate the virus has cost Britain's economy as much as £35.7bn this year alone.

Make UK chief executive Stephen Phipson said: "History has shown us that a strong industrial base provides the foundations needed to create a prosperous society.

"However, the UK has unfortunately become culturally tone deaf to the idea that manufacturing matters and can provide solutions to the challenges that we face, something the sector has amply shown during this crisis.

"A new digital, greener and more sustainable economy will emerge from this with an opportunity to catapult manufacturing, science and engineering once again to centre stage in the UK."

Paul Brooks, of Santander, added: "Our manufacturers are the beating heart of the UK economy, and although sobering, this detailed analysis is vital to understand how businesses can rebuild as restrictions are eased.

"While Covid-19 presents the most testing time for manufacturers at both ends of the supply chain, their aptitude to handle shock and change for the better is enduring, and we stand ready to support them."

A Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy spokesman said: "The government has put together a far-reaching package of financial support for businesses across all sectors, including supporting over £1.7bn worth of loans aimed at large businesses in sectors including manufacturing.

"We understand the challenges facing manufacturers and are working closely with the industry to provide the support needed."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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