Britain's leading manufacturers have sent a powerful pre-election message about the sector's ambitions for the future and the support urgently required from the next Government.

At the National Manufacturing Conference in London today, interactive polling amongst delegates revealed:

  • 96% feel positive about the current state of UK manufacturing, with 50% expecting manufacturing to account for a larger share of the economy in 5 years' time
  • Manufacturers' top priorities for the next Government are reducing the cost of doing business (28%0), improving infrastructure (25%) and better support for growing businesses (25%)
  • 67% say UK manufacturing's innovation performance is above or close to that of the EU
  • 34% name remaining part of the EU as the one factor most likely to encourage companies to invest in the UK over the next two decades
  • 39% say the biggest opportunity for manufacturers over the next 20 years will be new process technologies to improve efficiency followed by technology that helps firms connect with customers (19%), but just 12% are very confident that the UK is well-placed to take advantage of these opportunities.

Earlier, delegates heard from Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, and Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy. Prime Minister David Cameron laid out his support for the sector via a pre-recorded video and Business Secretary, Vince Cable, is speaking at the conference dinner later in the evening.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, says: “Today's message from British manufacturing to the next Government is clear - we are key to delivering and underpinning a balanced, stable and vibrant economy, but we cannot do it on our own. Industry and Government must work closely together.

"Manufacturers are looking for a long-term, strategic and supportive partnership with the next Government that builds on what has already been achieved and focuses on the opportunities ahead. This is not the time to falter. A new Government must lay the right policy groundwork to ensure the manufacturing renaissance remains on track and keeps Britain on the road to economic success.

"As a priority, manufacturers are calling for a more productive and flexible labour force, improved infrastructure, a reduction to the cost of doing business and better support for growing businesses. These foundation stones will help to secure the recovery and build a better-balanced economy that can be enjoyed by all."