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Government urged to maintain investment in UK automotive industry

The message comes from Gareth Jones, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in his keynote speech at SMMT’s 99th Annual Dinner in London this evening ahead of tomorrow’s Spending Review.

Jones called on the Chancellor to maintain the vital investment support and competitive business environment that have helped ensure the domestic new car market is now the second largest in Europe.

Jones said, “While the UK’s productivity is falling behind that of global competitors, in automotive we excel. We have the best record in Europe and our productivity has increased four times faster than the UK average. How? Sheer hard graft, hard won investment and a culture that demands continuous improvement and innovation.”

However, he added that there are also major challenges to overcome, including a referendum on whether the UK leaves its most important trading partner, a skills shortage and tomorrow’s Spending Review, with cuts expected across government departments, including those that help smaller businesses enter new markets around the world.

He also called on government to recognise the serious challenges faced in the automotive supply chain which is severely affected by exchange rates, higher energy and business costs. To grow, these companies, often SMEs, rely on government-supported funding initiatives.

“So much has already been invested successfully and to pull the rug away now would be a devastating waste,” he said, adding, “It’s a stark reminder that while our industry is a net exporter, the export deficit for parts sits at almost £8 billion. However, with the right support, re-shoring to the UK is possible – and with £4bn of potential growth, the benefits are worth it.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.