Finance for manufacturing: Make UK research highlights

Britain’s manufacturers are missing more than £9bn of investment, a new report by Make UK suggests.

Manufacturing is one of the UK’s economic lifelines, and finance is vital in helping these businesses invest to grow, innovate and become more sustainable.

Despite recent challenges, the manufacturing sector has remained resilient and businesses have invested to ensure they remain future fit. But manufacturers need further support to understand the breadth of finance and wider solutions available to ensure both future financial stability and to unlock potential.

With NatWest and Lombard’s support, Make UK – the prime industry body representing manufacturers in this country – has conducted research into this cherished sector’s attitudes and behaviours towards investment and funding through its latest report, ‘Finance: Opening doors to investment in manufacturing’.

Key findings from ‘Finance: Opening doors to investment in manufacturing’

Almost three quarters of companies say that without access to finance, investments would not take place, so it’s encouraging to see that funding support is critical in unlocking investment in key projects. The research found there is potential for more than £9bn of total investment spend during the next 12 months provided manufacturers access the support they need. Further, 87% say they will require access to finance to meet their investment plans in the next two years. The research also suggests 39% of manufacturers could use external finance instead of their own funding to invest and keep their working capital for day-to-day operations.

Boosting investment is also critical to the sectors’ efforts to improve productivity and innovation performance. The priorities for investment are capital equipment (62%), while 32% require access to finance for automation and 31% require it for energy efficiency.

Financial stability and the role of flexible funding

However, the economic environment is volatile, and so accessible finance will remain a needed source of capital expenditure.

Providing flexible finance for future-looking investments requires partnership and collaboration between lenders and manufacturers, with the support of organisations such as catapults and equipment suppliers, to ensure businesses maintain financial strength and stability. Identifying the return on investment and timescales linked to investments will help support applications for funding. For example, providing evidence on energy savings through investment in renewables.

The eco-system of external support

In addition to private sector funding, there’s a wealth of public finance funding, tax reliefs and services available to support investment. When businesses access this, it often generates significant benefits to them. However, the report highlights how difficult it is for manufacturers to navigate this support and several public sector grants, initiatives and programmes are unknown to many manufacturers.

Signposting and creating awareness of this support is key, and we encourage others across the industry to do the same. Indeed 69% of manufacturers would like to see a government-provided portal that identifies appropriate grants and subsidies for individual businesses.

NatWest is keen to work collaboratively across the industry and build an eco-system of support for manufacturers that will improve technology adoption, boost business productivity and create more sustainable businesses.

This content was written by NatWest, one of the METALL sponsors. Click here to visit the original article and download the Make UK finance report.