Whilst rumblings continue throughout Europe as to what the Greek people and its democratically elected government choose to do with the International Monetary Fund’s offer of a debt renegotiation, eyes turn inwards towards the strength of our own economy. Widely regarded as amongst the strongest in Europe, the UK has seen consistent growth since Q1 2013, something not really seen outside of the likes of Germany. The growth, whilst small (yet to break 1 p/c a quarter) has been a real sign of encouragement for manufacturing businesses, who have taken note of the increased optimism around the economy and begun, slowly and steadily to expand production and begin hiring more employees.
With Q4 2014 bringing a higher than expected 0.8% growth in the UK economy, consideration was turned towards the first quarter of 2015, which was expected to be much lower. Well, the results are in, and Britain’s economy grew faster than many had initially thought in the opening months of the year, though it still suffered a noticeable slowdown compared to the previous quarter. The office for National Statistics have reported that GDP rose by 0.4% in the first quarter, which was in line with the City’s economists’ forecasts after the revised UK construction figures showed there was no sharp drop off, as first reported.
Nevertheless, a drop off of 0.4% is the sharpest seen in two years and is, on the face of it, a worrying indicator. Thankfully, analysts have said that they consider the Q1 slowdown as nothing more than a temporary blip, and that the overall picture is one of stronger growth. “The economic fundamentals look broadly positive for the UK, particularly for the consumer, and we believe growth will be largely healthy through the second half of 2015, Consumers’ purchasing power should see marked improvement due to extremely low consumer price inflation and strengthening earnings growth, while employment should see decent growth. Furthermore, it currently looks unlikely that interest rates will rise before 2016” Said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.
This growth has been spread across several sectors, including manufacturing and household spending. It’s that latter unit which has seen the strongest growth, with consumers appearing to dive into their savings to splash out. Whilst internal manufacturing figures were solid, the strong pound made UK goods more expensive overseas, and slightly dented the figures, resulting in the 0.4% drop off from the previous quarter.
Anecdotally at Custom Fittings, we’ve seen strong demand for our range of stainless steel fittings, indicating a resurgent manufacturing industry which is keen to get going again properly. An increase in the number of custom designed hose fittings also points towards greater innovation within the sphere, something which can only be good.
The Chancellor, Gideon ‘George’ Osbourne, welcomed the latest growth figures, stating “Today’s figures are another reminder that the economic plan we’ve pursued in Britain these last five years has increased our resilience – and we will take whatever further steps are needed to protect the UK from the new risks we see to our economic security”.
So, with the Greek crisis looking set to rumble on, it’s a comfort to know that the UK’s economy is on a strong footing, with consumer confidence up and the manufacturing industry earning back its reputation for high quality and excellent efficiency.