The majority of voters want the UK manufacturing industry to be at the heart of parties’ election campaigns, a recent YouGov poll, carried out for manufacturers’ organisation EEF, has shown.

Official data to be released later this week is expected to show Britain’s low wage issues continue, despite economic growth – economists say manufacturing has a key role in driving up productivity and wages –

George Osborne called for a “march of the makers” earlier in the coalition’s term, yet the sector has seen only slow growth and remains below its pre-recession levels.

85% of voters want the next government to promote a stronger UK manufacturing industry, with 62% saying it will give the country more economic security.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, said:

“The message to parties and political leaders is loud and clear: a strong, rebalanced economy has to be the long-term end goal and at the heart of your election offering.

“There is no room for complacency. While the UK is on the right path, we still have a long way to go … Net trade is still weak, investment is still below pre-recession levels and, while manufacturing has gained ground, more can be done to create the right conditions for manufacturers and wider industry to thrive and grow.”

Confidence among small businesses is the highest on record, according to the Federation for Small Business survey.

John Allan, the national chairman of the FSB, said:

“We’re seeing record breaking confidence from our members which suggests small firms will continue to spearhead the UK’s recovery. As we head in to party conference season, we’ll be looking to all the political parties to spell out what they will do to encourage job creation, investment and reward entrepreneurs in the next parliament.”

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