Manufacturers feel the heat as recession deepens

Posted on 26 Nov 2009 by The Manufacturer

The manufacturing sector believes the worst of the recession may be over – but fear that it has another year or more still left to run, according to a survey by Clifton Asset Management.

The latest quarterly survey of more than 1,000 businesses, carried out by Clifton Asset Management (CAM), reveals that 28% of firms have cut jobs over the past six months, down from 34% in the last survey. Meanwhile, 12% of owner-managers say they will need to reduce their payroll over the next six months, down 10% on the CAM spring survey.

When asked how they saw their business’ performance over the past quarter, 38% said it had improved, with 35% saying the situation was broadly the same and 27% believing it had deteriorated. However, the positive news in the latest research from CAM is tempered by the fact that the majority of respondents think the recession is far from over.

Some 52% believe the economy will remain in the doldrums for another year or more, with just 12% forecasting that the UK will be out of recession within six months. This continues to affect people’s retirement plans, with 80% of respondents saying their retirement is further away now than it was a year ago — unchanged on the figure recorded six months ago.

“Our survey is starting to reveal real cause for hope, on the jobs front at least, that the worst is over,” said Anthony Carty, director at Clifton Asset Management. “However, SMEs are at the eye of the storm, and over half believe the recovery will be long and slow. This seems to chime with forecasts that we could be into 2011 before the recovery is properly under way.”

The latest CAM research also reveals that over a third of business owners are still unaware of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, the major Government initiative aimed at stimulating bank lending to SMEs. Some 63% say they are now familiar with the scheme, a figure down 2% on the spring survey figure.

Said Carty: “It is a sorry state of affairs when awareness of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee appears to have fallen among business owners, and the number who say they have been successful in securing funding through the scheme remains tiny, at around 2%.”