Home News Public impressed by manufacturing’s response to Covid-19, says survey

Public impressed by manufacturing’s response to Covid-19, says survey

The UK public stands firmly behind the manufacturing sector to support the UK and protect the NHS through coronavirus and into the future, according to a new survey.

The Attitudes to UK Industry survey found that almost three in four (74%) of the UK public believe that the manufacturing sector stepped up to meet the challenge of supporting the UK as coronavirus took a grip on the nation in March 2020. The same number of respondents believe that a strategic long-term plan for helping manufacturing to be more productive and competitive will help insulate the UK from future pandemics and go some way to protect UK GDP, of which manufacturing contributes over 17%. Furthermore, three-quarters (75%) believe more strongly in the importance of the UK manufacturing as a result of coronavirus.

The research was conducted among 2,000 adults by Populus* for industrial communications firm Cadence Innovation Marketing. The Annual Attitudes to UK Industry study is a series of snapshot polls and in-depth research culminating in an annual report.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and resulted in many UK factories switching production to medical devices and products in a bid to help the NHS cope. Tom Spencer, managing director at Cadence, said manufacturing had taken a central role in the unfolding drama, and rarely in recent times has it been the subject of so much media and public attention.

“Our snapshot poll sought to delve behind the media commentary by asking a representative sample of over 2,000 UK adults for their opinion on a range of topics raised by coronavirus. The results offer an insight into changing public opinion about the importance and relevance of UK manufacturing,” he said. “This huge public vote of confidence in our often beleaguered and under-supported sector is just one of several remarkable statistics thrown up by our research,” he added. 

Steve Brambley, chief executive of industrial automation and control trade association Gambica, said: ““The result shows that there is a genuine opportunity for the UK to open a new page in its history as it embarks on the era of digital transformation that will define it for generations to come. It remains to be seen if the pandemic itself, resultant global economic turmoil, and Brexit will distract or divert resources away from an environment that will support the regeneration of UK industry, but this poll makes one thing abundantly clear: the people of the UK stand firmly behind our industry and believe strongly in its future.”

Mr Brambley said Gambica’s own internal research showed that the biggest impact on member firms was in orders and sales. None of its members had stopped working altogether. The latest survey showed 45% of employees were working from home, 17% were furloughed, and 32% were working in their normal workplace.

“People had to make disruptive changes to factories to be able to continue,” he said. Initial difficulties with the supply chain had been solved quickly. The main problem now lay with orders, which dropped by an average of 20-30% at the start of the crisis, but had now recovered somewhat to 20%. “A 20% loss of orders is still the most significant we’ve ever seen,” he warned.

More information: www.attitudestoukindustry.co.uk