The manufacturing sector in the UK is set to take one of the biggest hits from COVID-19, with industry output expected to fall by 55% in the second quarter of 2020.
37% of manufacturers have stated that they do not expect trading conditions to return to normal for 6-12 months following the outbreak and eventual resolution of the coronavirus pandemic, with an additional 17% not expecting conditions to return to normal within a year.
Output levels will only be able to return to what they previously were when demand reaches the same level. Whilst retail outlets, automotive facilities and more remain closed, this demand does not exist. Irregular spending patterns caused by consumers staying at home and only shopping for essentials has also led to reduced demand.
To combat the fallout of the pandemic, Make UK has published “Manufacturing our road to recovery.” This 3-point plan calls on the UK Government to give manufacturers enough time to begin scaling up operations and recovering by extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in a more flexible way, by utilising part-time or short-time working patterns.
The 3 points of the plan are:
Boost economic confidence
Ensure a safe return to work
By introducing an incentive scheme for old IT, plant and machinery firms to invest in newer technologies, the plan hopes to improve and drive automation, productivity, output and exports. The rental and purchase of bicycles and other smaller forms of transport, such as mopeds, will be supported by the plan. This will enable commuters from rural areas to get to work even when transport is limited.
The need for access to PPE is also highlighted in the plan. Workers cannot return safely without protective gear readily available to them, but this cannot impede the NHS’ ability to access PPE. HSE reviews will be implemented into wider workplace regulations to allow differential operation.
In order to build resilience, the plan intends to carry out a comprehensive supply chain mapping project, ensuring a greater understanding of the vulnerabilities throughout the network, which includes transport and logistics. Incentives will be included to ensure R&D capacity and spend is safeguarded.
Stephen Phipson, Make UK’s Chief Executive, said: “Industry welcomed the initial critical financial support from Government but now as we move into the recovery stage the right response is to focus on supporting the business sector with measures designed to stimulate demand and ensure manufacturers can get back to supplying the goods consumers want and our country needs.”
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