Manufacturing will be a key issue in next year's General Election, a new survey has found.
85% of those polled by YouGov on behalf of EEF, the UK's manufacturing industry body, said that they want the next government to promote a stronger UK manufacturing base, which they believe would in turn support jobs and growth. Respondents said that better balanced growth is the key economic issue, with 63% saying that it is important ahead of the 2015 poll.
Manufacturing is also the sector consumers most want to see grow - 48% compared to services (15%) and construction (15%).
Some 59% said they want the UK to manufacture more, with 64% wanting exports to increase and 58% calling for better competitiveness.
"Amid political turmoil over Scotland, it is easy to forget that another hotly anticipated democratic change is looming on the horizon. Next year's general election is just 8 months away and, regardless of the outcome, there are concerns over the impact it could have on our ambition for a strong, stable, rebalanced British economy," EEF's chief executive Terry Scuoler wrote in a blog post accompanying the data.
The UK's manufacturing recovery has been much talked about in recent months, with the consensus being that it has been steady, rather than spectacular.
Markit's purchasing managers' index (PMI) data from September showed that the sector had lost some steam since the halfway point of 2014. EEF's own data predicts a 3.3% growth in factor output for the third quarter, trimmed down from an earlier prediction of 3.5%.
EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said in the statement: "Manufacturers are still on course for a strong year of output growth in 2014, but our survey points to a moderation in the pace of expansion from the take-off seen in activity over the past year. We're also seeing manufacturers continue to recruit for skilled jobs and increase their plans to invest in the coming year – exactly what the UK economy still needs for balanced growth."
While manufacturing sector employment growth hit a 40-year high in July, according to data from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), there have been warnings that the sector is still to cautious about investing in new plants and machinery.
"Making progress towards better balanced growth remains a top economic priority and investment by manufacturers is, and must continue to be, a contributor to this process," said Hopley. "However, we're not yet seeing the step change in investment plans we need. Plans continue to be held back by uncertainty, resources and factors that tilt the decision in favour of other locations."