Supply chain issues plaguing the UK’s manufacturing sector through 2021 are beginning to ease, according to new figures, as growth continued to increase for the industry through December. 

The latest figures, published as part of the IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), show growth for manufacturing continued to climb at the end of last year, which many are hoping spells light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to supply chain problems.

For months now, news headlines have been dominated by supply chain woes as the combination of Brexit and coronavirus pandemic complications added strain to so many industries across the country. 

Things seemingly came to a head in September 2021. It was an issue which multiple sectors had been calling on the government for help with for months but it soon became a concern of even the average consumer. Supermarket shelves emptied and queues for fuel pumps went on for miles. 

It appears, however,  that the issues that were at the front of our minds just a few short months ago may be easing, as the latest PMI report shows even more growth than was expected from the last month of the year.

The index reached a positive 57.9 last month, with any number over 50 being representative of growth within the sector. 

This was higher than the initial flash PMI reading of 57.6, though a slight drop on the three-month high of 58.1 recorded in November 2021.

Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said: “Although supply chains remain severely stretched, there are at least signs that the situation is stabilising, with vendor delivery times lengthening to the weakest extent for a year in December.

“This helped take some of the heat out of input price increases, but cost inflation remained sufficiently steep to necessitate the sharpest rise in factory gate selling prices on record.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that we shouldn’t jump the gun and assume all was well when it comes to the supply chain though, as further disruption from covid and brexit may still be on the horizon and could “undo recent progress”.

“Supply chain disruptions… likely will worsen this month, given that Brexit customs checks have been bolstered and Omicron likely will lead to renewed factory closures in Asia,” he said.

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