A major survey has shown manufacturers in the Midlands are continuing to suffer.
The fourth-quarter RSM Robson Rhodes/EEF engineering outlook survey makes gloomy reading.
It shows, regionally, manufacturers' fortunes are mixed with the decline in motor vehicles continuing to have a negative impact on the West Midlands, which has contracted three out of the last four quarters.
And Bob Hale, chairman of RSM Robson Rhodes' National Manufacturing and Technology Group, called on on the Government to do far more to support the UK's beleaguered manufacturing industry.
He said: "Manufacturing remains under severe threat through depressed margins, increased energy prices, the current pensions crisis and continuing competition from low-cost economies such as China and India.
His comments came as the RSM Robson Rhodes/EEF engineering outlook survey were released. Growth has continued - albeit at a minimal pace - for the tenth consecutive quarter, with falling domestic orders pointing to a weakening UK economy.
Manufacturers were looking to the Chancellor's pre-Budget speech today and hoping there were no further costs imposed on industry.
The survey revealed that for the second consecutive quarter more companies reported price falls rather than increases.
On a positive note, export orders are showing healthy growth, although domestic orders declined for the third consecutive quarter. By sector, the picture for manufacturing is mixed with electronics, mechanical equipment and other transport equipment remaining strong - mainly on the back of aerospace, which accounts for around 60 per cent of the sector's output.
Meanwhile, metals and motor vehicles reported another weak quarter, whilst electrical equipment saw the first decline in two years.