Despite the current low levels of interest rates on loans, lending to manufacturers slowed in the year to October 2016, declining by 5.2% according to the latest statistics released by the Bank of England.
Does this signal the start of a more cautious approach to lending amongst manufacturing businesses post Brexit? It’s too early to say but uncertainty doesn’t appear to be having any impact on consumer borrowing, which increased by 10% in the same period.
Although manufacturing only accounts for a tenth of the UK economy today, the divergence in lending figures suggests that consumers are happy to keep on borrowing in advance of expected price hikes in 2017 when the fall in the value of GBP against the dollar and other currencies starts to bite.
Despite making up a smaller part of the UK economy than it once did, the manufacturing sector may be in a for a tough time due to its reliance on foreign imports. This could be exacerbated further if the government pursues a so-called hard Brexit, which could result in tariffs when trading with EU nations.
Manufacturing wasn’t the only sector to see a decline with total business lending also falling by £8.2 billion month on month. This fall was largely due to a decline in loans to the financial services sector.