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SME manufacturers call for urgent financial support

Small to medium-sized manufacturers in the West Midlands are calling for greater and faster financial support from the Government, as they confront plummeting sales, production volumes and the prospect of job cuts amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest Manufacturing Barometer, which surveyed 115 firms in the region, reveals a stark picture of how the virus is affecting industrial confidence, with 85% of respondents experiencing a drastic decline in production volumes, while nine out of ten are expecting sales to drop over the next six months.

Conducted by the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) and South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS), the report also shows that 61% of firms believe they will need to cut jobs between now and October, despite the business grants on offer and the furloughing scheme designed to boost employee retention. This is the highest number of all the areas in England.

The overwhelming majority of manufacturing SMEs surveyed (83%) say they require urgent financial support to get through the current climate, with only 13% confident that the Government is doing enough to help the sector cope with the pandemic.

Martin Coats, managing director of the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), said: “COVID-19 is having a huge impact across the West Midlands, but it is especially problematic for our sector as manufacturing cannot be carried out remotely, relying as it does on physical interaction with machinery and parts.

“Current restrictions and the ongoing lockdown measures mean that capacity is dramatically reduced, therefore the majority of businesses are reporting an unprecedented fall in production volumes.

“Top of the wish list for SME manufacturers is stronger financial assistance and for Government to go ‘faster and further’. While the existing package of measures has been welcomed, there remains a pressing need for a deeper level of sector-specific advice and support.

“This crisis has brought home how reliant we have become on overseas supply of strategically critical items. We must learn from this and re-establish UK production of these parts and protect SME manufacturing now, in order to ensure it is ready to spring back into action once the COVID-19 crisis is finally over.”

The latest Manufacturing Barometer, which is the largest survey of its type in England, reflects a positive response from West Midlands manufacturing to support the urgent request for vital medical equipment and PPE.

Just over a fifth (21%) surveyed say they have already responded to the Government’s call, with a further 14% willing to access advice on how to switch their production lines.

Martin continued: “It is no great surprise to see that every indicator for confidence among SME manufacturers appears to have worsened over the last six months due to the impact of Covid-19.

“That said, it is heartening to see that many SME manufacturers are adapting to the situation by diversifying their processes and product ranges in all manner of innovative ways.”

Other key finding in the Manufacturing Barometer, include:


Companies get share of multi-million pound boost

SME manufacturers urged to take up post pandemic funding

2nd July 2020

Multi-million pound business support boost

Finance will unlock potential of SME manufacturers

10th May 2019

Intervention could save more jobs than furlough scheme

Trade body welcomes Government's decision to guarantee insurance

18th May 2020

Businesses will hear benefits of 5G

Network event will explain the future impact on local industry

29th October 2019

Investment fund makes immediate impact

Over £64m invested in businesses in the Midlands

20th May 2020

Funding brings support for SMEs

Unity Trust Bank initiative will help businesses struggling during pandemic

15th May 2020

Report reveals cashflow worries

Chamber says Coronavirus has heightened existing problems

15th April 2020

New manufacturing cluster is unveiled

Collaboration will target more than £10m of electrification opportunities

25th August 2020

Barberry will deliver manufacturing site

Company chosen as preferred developer

14th October 2020

Tooling experts have lift off

New aerospace contracts help firm bounce back from pandemic

16th October 2020

Social enterprises could face hammer blow

Calls for vital scheme that encourages investment to be continued

9th June 2020

Help where it's needed

Support measures in place for impacted customers

30th June 2020

Investment Fund reaches £50 million milestone

Cash handed out to more than 150 firms

19th June 2019

R&D Tax Credits firm launches lifeline

Package aims to help ease Coronavirus cashflow challenges

6th May 2020

Extended furlough scheme is welcomed

Business leaders say it's a lifeline for firms across the UK

12th May 2020