The road to recovery

The harsh reality of the Covid crisis for the UK’s £18.6 billion automotive sector is laid bare by a new member survey from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It reveals that up to one in six jobs are at risk of redundancy. With a third of automotive workers still furloughed, the end of the government’s job retention lifeline in November highlights the critical need for a dedicated restart support package to safeguard these jobs, it says.

More than 6,000 UK automotive job cuts were announced in June, a result of global lockdowns, closed markets and shuttered plants. Showrooms in England and Wales are now reopening and production lines restarting, but reduced demand and social distancing are slowing productivity.

SMMT is calling on government to address this with a support package for the entire sector to help drive demand and ease cash flow.

Measures including unfettered access to emergency funding, permanent short-time working, business rate holidays, VAT cuts and policies that boost consumer confidence would accelerate a sustainable restart for the market and manufacturing – a prerequisite to the recovery phase, and to unlocking the investment needed to drive a green future for the UK.

Speaking at the industry’s annual summit, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘Government’s intervention has been unprecedented. But the job isn’t done yet.

‘Just as we have seen in other countries, we need a package of support to restart – to build demand, volumes and growth, and keep the UK at the forefront of the global automotive industry to drive long-term investment, innovation and economic growth.

‘Support delivered now is an investment in the future of one of Britain’s most valuable assets… investment that we will repay many times over.’

Pictured above:
Kia Soul EV, 2020 World Urban Car

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