Commenting on the manufacturing output figures for January, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:  

“It is encouraging to see stronger figures than were expected. Although comparisons are slightly distorted by the severe weather in December, the underlying trends are undoubtedly positive. The manufacturing recovery is gathering momentum, and this data supports our belief that economic growth is positive in the current quarter, after the setback at the end of last year. In conjunction with positive trade figures, it looks hopeful that the rebalancing of the UK economy is set to continue.  

“But we should remain cautious, as the strength in manufacturing comes after a long period of weakness. Although rising strongly over the past year, output is still more than seven per cent below its level in 2006. The sector faces many challenges in the months ahead, such as trying to cope with the Government’s austerity measures and the prospect of an interest rate increase in the next few months.  

“The UK’s economic background will remain uncertain for some time, which is why the recovery in manufacturing must be supported. It is important that businesses can retain valuable skills, and UK exporters are able to compete on equitable terms. Regulatory burdens facing businesses, particularly small-and medium- sized firms, must be removed. We await the Chancellor’s forthcoming Budget in the hope that these growth supporting policies are addressed.”