The Engineering Employers’ Federation expressed concern at the trends highlighted by its first quarter results for 1997. A deterioration of export orders combined with a marginal slowing of UK orders. The EEF warned that if sterling continues at its current high level, both export and home sales will be further threatened.
Operating capacity has remained steady for the past three quarters with those operating at full capacity, ranging from 28% in Yorkshire to 47% in the North. The EEF’s regional breakdown shows Scotland as the only region to record a stronger output in March than last December, a weakening trend was most marked in the West Midlands, south and western regions.
In contrast, the latest figures from the Purchasing managers’ index show that manufacturing is expanding for the tenth consecutive month with new home and export orders increasing.
Figures from employment agency Manpower show a third of firms plan to take on more staff in the next three months and 12% plan to cut staff.
UK spending on R&D in 1995 was steady at £14.3bn. Government spending accounted for 14.5% overall and 33% in the defence sector.