By Marcus Leach

Official data released today (Tuesday) shows that manufacturing output in April fell by 0.2% compared with the previous month, and 0.5% from the same time a year ago.

However, the Office for National Statistics's data also showed that total industrial production in April was up by 0.1% on the month, despite it being down 0.6% year-on-year.

David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that the disappointing manufacturing figures highlight challenges facing the UK.

“The figures are slightly worse than expected, coming after two monthly increases in February and March. Longer-term trends are also concerning, as both manufacturing and total industrial output show declined compared to a year ago, and even three years ago," he said.

"Our manufacturing exporters are still overly focused on the weak eurozone, but low domestic demand has also limited progress. Our view remains that while manufacturing output will begin to make slow progress, we still expect the sector to record negative growth in 2013 as a whole.

“The UK economy is facing challenges at home and abroad, and the service sector will be the main driver of Britain’s recovery while the manufacturing sector continues to struggle. However many firms have preserved their skill base during the recovery, and with further support, particularly for exporters, the manufacturing sector will gradually improve.”

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