Britain’s manufacturing sector lies in ruins

George osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visits the Crossrail station construction site at Tottenham Court Road in central London where he helped to build a section of scaffolding and met with engineers on March 15, 2016 in London, England. Osborne is set to give the green light to major rail developments in the north of England and London in his Budget on Wednesday. Stefan Rousseau – WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK manufacturing production data came in far below expectations in February, and is signalling worrying times for manufacturing in the country.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, released on Friday, manufacturing production fell by 1.1% in February, the most recent data period. That’s down from growth of 0.7% in January.

The consensus forecast of economists for February was for a much smaller fall of just 0.2%.

On a year-on-year basis manufacturing also fell a lot more steeply than expected. It fell by 1.8% against an expected 0.7%.

Industrial production was not much better, falling 0.5% year-on-year and 0.3% month-on-month. That came against forecasts of a flat figure of 0% growth, and a 0.1% gain.

The figures suggest that January’s data, released at the start of March, was something of a blip. Manufacturing production grew by 0.7% month-on-month in January 2016, beating analysts’ estimates of a 0.2% rise. This gave some hope that Britain’s manufacturing sector, which has been in the doldrums of late, was recovering.

The data adds to an increasingly gloomy picture for the UK’s economy. On Tuesday, statistics from Markit and the CIPS showed that Britain’s services sector — the dominant sector of the economy — just had its worst quarter since the end of 2012.

There are also huge fears about the potentially imminent collapse of the Welsh steel industry, unless a buyer can be found at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.

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