UNCERTAINTY over Brexit is hitting confidence amongst manufacturers across the region.

A new survey is forecasting a downward trend in output and exports over the coming months.

Among the contributors to the research, published by manufacturers' organisation Make UK and business advisory firm BDO, was Haworth-based Airedale Springs.

Company chairman Tim Parkinson says business was strong for the first few months of the year, but has quietened off.

"The situation with Brexit is causing concern," he told the Keighley News.

"You have to think about investment, but this climate is creating uncertainty when it comes to making decisions.

"We bought two new machines last year and are still progressing with an extension.

"However, manufacturing is experiencing a general quiet.

"Although we have a new date for leaving the EU – October 31 – there is still a 'will it or won't it' air. It's a complete unknown."

Direct exporting accounts for about ten per cent of Airedale Springs' trade, and much of that is with Europe.

But many of the 30-employee firm's products are supplied for machinery which is subsequently sent overseas.

The survey reveals that business confidence among manufacturers in Yorkshire & Humber is the lowest of any UK region.

Employment and recruitment prospects remain strong, but investment intentions are down.

Seamus Nevin, for Make UK, said: "There is a clear weakening trend which, if it continues, would push some elements of industry into negative territory before too long.

"Earlier this year there was clear evidence that industry was on steroids as companies stockpiled. Underneath, however, there is growing evidence that global customers are moving away from the UK as concerns over Brexit and trade agreements continue.

"With this picture it would be the height of economic lunacy to take the UK out of the EU with no deal in place."

Steve Talbot, head of manufacturing at BDO in Yorkshire, said companies were preparing to "take the hit" in the second half of this year.

He added: "Manufacturers need to prepare for a more digitally-fluent future – both in terms of the technologies they deploy and the people they employ – but right now they are not overly confident of a future worth investing in.

"Stockpiling is dying down and export orders continue to fall away as global competition increases."