According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the decline of manufacturing in the UK has been a long-standing trend that predates Brexit.
The sector, which was once a cornerstone of the UK economy, has been facing challenges for several years, with many companies struggling to compete in an increasingly globalised market.
The ONS figures show that between 2008 and 2018, the manufacturing industry saw a 6% decrease in output, with a decline of 1.1% in the year leading up to the Brexit referendum in 2016.
In the same period, employment in the industry fell by 14%, representing a loss of over 400,000 jobs.
One of the main factors contributing to the decline of manufacturing in the UK was the increasing competition from emerging economies, particularly China. As many UK companies moved their operations overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor and more relaxed regulations, the domestic industry struggled to compete.
Another contributing factor was the increasing complexity of global supply chains, which made it more difficult for UK manufacturers to access the materials and components they needed. As companies sourced inputs from multiple countries, they faced a range of logistical, regulatory, and tariff challenges, leading to higher costs and reduced efficiency.
The financial crisis of 2008 also played a role in the decline of manufacturing, as demand for goods fell and companies were forced to cut back on production. This led to plant closures and job losses, particularly in the automotive and steel industries.
Furthermore, technological advances and automation led to a shift away from labor-intensive manufacturing processes, further reducing the need for workers in the industry.
Despite these challenges, some experts argue that more could have been done to support the industry and prevent its decline. They point to other countries, such as Germany and Japan, where manufacturing remains a vital part of the economy, and argue that the UK could have done more to emulate their success.
In recent years, the UK government has taken steps to support the manufacturing industry, including increased investment and tax breaks. However, the industry continues to face challenges, including the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations and the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the UK continues to navigate these challenges, it remains to be seen whether the manufacturing sector under the current globalist supporting government can recover and once again play a significant role in the country’s economy.