British factory output rises but still below pre-crash peak

Tim Wallace
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Britain's manufacturers increased their output strongly in the 12 months to July, official data revealed yesterday, driven by a boom in plastics and transport equipment.

Factory output climbed 2.2 per cent on the year, continuing a run of solid growth seen every month since last September.

But the industries are still well below their pre-crash peaks.

Manufacturing output remains 7.6 per cent below the record levels of output recorded in early 2008.

And the wider production industries – including manufacturing as well as sectors like mining and waste disposal – remain 11.3 per cent below the highs of 2008.

By contrast, Britain’s services sector smash­ed through the 2008 levels last year, and the economy as a whole is around 2.7 per cent bigger than it was before the financial crash struck and forced the UK into a prolonged recession.

Analysts warned the signs of growth in manufacturing were not yet fully entrenched into a solid recovery.

“Although we are still seeing growth and sentiment amongst manufacturers remains positive, there is still a fragility about the recovery,” said Barclays’ Mike Rigby.

“Economic conditions remain broadly supportive, if a little benign, but uncertainty around interest rate rises is holding many manufacturers back from raising investment levels which could start to impact unfavour­ably on continuing growth for the sector.”

Some industries in the data have proved particularly choppy – oil and gas output is down 1.1 per cent in the year, crashing from a huge 8.9 per cent jump in the year to March.