Are British firms bringing off-shore jobs back to the UK?

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

Firms are bringing back work to Britain. Credit: ITV News

After years of work and jobs going to our competitors on distant shores, as the recovery gathers pace, is British manufacturing back in business?

Over the last few months ITV Tonight's been tracking British firms who have decided instead of sending work abroad, to bring it home.

Tony Caldeira, a textile manufacturer on Merseyside is closing down some of his Chinese operations and bringing jobs back to his UK operations. He told us that ten years ago, 'It was heart breaking …but it was China or bust'. The cost of doing business was so much cheaper abroad than at home, he felt he had no choice but to shift business elsewhere.

But now, with wages rising in China, and the UK offering better and better quality, the chance to come back home has been too good to resist.

Tony says, 'when we did the numbers we were stunned', now he is downsizing significantly in China and will offer extra jobs in Liverpool.

And it's not just Tony, there is a trend known as 're-shoring' - whether it's manufacturers, or big businesses like Santander who brought their call centres back to Leicester from India, there is a noticeable and potentially significant move to bring business back to the UK. Vince Cable the Business Secretary told us that 'off-shoring went too far'.

Now he says, a combination of factors means that 'it is very clean that stuff that used to be produced overseas in Asia is now being produced here …cost advantage, less uncertainty,..and they'd rather deal with a British supply chain.'

Cable says it is now a 'very significant trend,…there is now a recognition that Britain is very good at making things'.

Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO told us that the trend is gathering momentum, and does make a difference to the rest of the economy saying, 'it does make a difference because it's bringing confidence back to UK manufacturing …I think people had forgotten that manufacturing was important'.

Of course, some businesses are still sending work abroad, the lure of lower costs is still providing temptation. We still bring in far more goods to this country than we sell abroad. Yet slowly, reshoring is starting to turn the tide.

Tonight: Is Britain Back in Business? is on ITV tonight at 7.30pm