Business group publishes plan to halt economic downturn

Manufacturers have published a six-point plan today aimed at halting the "accelerating" economic downturn amid gloomy forecasts that industry will not recover from the recession until the middle of 2010.

The Engineering Employers Federation forecast that manufacturing will contract by 5 per cent this year and is unlikely to grow again until the second half of 2010.

The business group, which represents 6,000 companies employing 900,000 workers, urged the Government to restrict any new regulations, reduce the tax burden on companies and take urgent action to restore access to credit.

Ministers were pressed to introduce a nationwide scheme to guarantee bank lending to businesses of all sizes and were told that allowances should be paid to firms who tried to hold on to skilled staff through short-time working.

EEF chief economist Steve Radley, said: "This year was already going to be challenging for manufacturing but the combination of the global downturn and continued sclerosis in the financial markets means the downturn will now be longer and deeper than expected.

"While reductions in interest rates will kick in at some point we cannot afford to wait. The unprecedented speed of the downturn since last autumn is hampering companies' ability to adjust and government must put measures in place as a matter of urgency."

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