By Max Clarke
Industrial production climbed just 0.7% over the year ending March, dashing the hopes of Britain’s industry leading the recovery.
Particularly badly hit was the quarrying and mining sector, which plunged some 10.7% over the same period, figures from the Government’s Office for National Statistics today revealed.
“As expected, output rose in March after stagnating in February," said British Chambers of Commerce's chief economist, David Kern. "But growth was modest and still inadequate given the challenges facing the UK economy. With the financial sector likely to remain weak, a sustained economic recovery largely depends on a rebalancing towards manufacturing. As the manufacturing sector will play a key role in driving exports and innovation, more needs to be done to make sure the pace of growth improves."
Energy prices continued to see output in the oil and gas sectors constrained, increasing by 1.0% as soaring prices constrain public demand.
Manufacturing, long touted as a ray of light in Britain’s bleak economy, continued to grow, reaching an annual groth rate of 2.7% in the year ending March. Transport jumped nearly 10%, driving much of this rise, followed by the machinery and equipment sector at 7.7%.
Said Kern: “Although we have seen progress in manufacturing in the last year, the most recent figures have been disappointing, and the upturn in output must accelerate. While British businesses support the Government’s measures aimed at reducing the deficit, more effort must be made to enable private-sector firms, particularly SMEs, to invest, export and create jobs.”
Manmade fibres made the largest subtraction to this growth rate, contracting 3.3% while slowed electrical and optical sector growth also contributed.