LONDON (SHARECAST) - A large majority of manufacturers want the government's chief focus to be growth rather than cutting the structural deficit, according to new figures.
Just under 80% of companies surveyed by the manufacturers' lobby group, EEF, want to see new measures to strengthen growth in the UK economy.
In contrast, just over a quarter still see reducing the UK’s structural deficit as a top priority.
The manufacturing sector has struggled recently, with latest figures showing it was weaker than expected in September, and had contracted for a fifth month in a row.
Figures from Markit's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) showed the sector was down to 48.4 in September from 49.6 in August - anything under 50 represents a drop in activity.
"While business still sees fiscal credibility as vital, there is a growing realisation that we will only make sustained progress in reducing the deficit if the government has the strategy in place to deliver stronger and better balanced growth," the EEF said.
The UK's biggest trading partner, Europe, remains a serious concern, with 40% of companies saying they wanted the government to put greater pressure on eurozone countries to resolve the debt crisis.
The findings were released ahead of a speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Conservative Party conference on Monday.
Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, said the government had yet to demonstrate to business that it has the same "clarity and laser-like focus" on growth across departments that it has on reducing the deficit.
“The Chancellor must use his speech today to convince business that growth is the number one priority across government and that there is a plan to deliver it," he said.
"The government has made a start with its Growth Implementation Committee but, this cannot just be about delivery.
"It must also ensure that all parts of government are working together effectively to deliver stronger and better balanced growth."
The new growth committee, a sub-committee of the economic affairs committee, was set up by the Chancellor in September to review obstacles in Whitehall, local government and planning regulations that are holding back growth.
The government has vowed to eliminate the current structural deficit by 2015 as well as putting a cap on public debt as a proportion of GDP.
However, there is increasing speculation that this target may have to be altered as economic growth has been weaker than expected.