Britain on verge of economic recovery

Strong opinion: Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens Industry UK and Ireland
Strong opinion: Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens Industry UK and Ireland
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Genuine economic recovery is now within the UK’s reach, according to the boss of German group Siemens’ British businesses, Juergen Maier.

Mr Maier, who as managing director of Siemens Industry UK and Ireland, has overall responsibility for operations that include the group’s Sheffield-based Metal Technologies business, was speaking following the news that Britain’s economy had grown by one per cent during the last three months.

He said: “The fact we are out of recession is great news for the UK economy and this is a really strong number.

“The best thing about this data is that it now gives industry real confidence that a genuine recovery is firmly within reach.

“Whilst it will remain tough for at least 12 months, it is the fastest growth seen since the crash of 2008 with manufacturing up significantly which we must see as confidence to invest for the future.

“We see that manufacturing growth has been spearheaded by high end manufacturing - for instance automotive production from the likes of UK firms such as JLR and Bentley. Where we need to work harder is to ensure a stronger local supply base for these industries, and that journey is going to take a little longer because it takes real long term investment in skills, automated factories and R&D.”

While Mr Maier was upbeat about manufacturing’s future, Andy Tüscher, regional director of the manufacturers’ organisation, the EEF, questioned whether the latest figures really signalled an improvement in underlying growth.

“With survey data, particularly in our major markets, pointing to difficult trading conditions in recent months, it’s unlikely this pace of expansion will be maintained into the New Year.

“As such, the pressure is still on for government to set out a clear vision of its economic priorities in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.”

The improvement in the economic outlook has sparked calls in Sheffield for the Government to show its commitment to manufacturing by offering 100 per cent tax allowances on capital expenditure.

Local business leaders have also called on the private sector to focus on developing long-term, sustainable industries which offered a reasonable return to shareholders and good employment prospects.

Meanwhile, Dominic Beck, policy and representation adviser at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, warned that it businesses would not start to invest, consumers would not start to spend and financial markets would not loosen up until there was confirmation in the medium term of sustainable levels of growth.

“Ministers now must grasp the initiative and embed a culture of confidence within financial and domestic markets and back political rhetoric with genuine and tangible investment,” said Mr Beck.

“Stalling is no longer an option as businesses in South Yorkshire are calling for less red tape, more accessible lending and opportunity.”