Up to one in six automotive jobs are at risk of redundancy as a result of the UK’s COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
With a third of automotive workers still furloughed and plans to end the job retention scheme, the SMMT is calling for a dedicated ‘restart support’ package to safeguard jobs across the sector.
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 pre-requisite 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 earlier this week, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “UK Automotive is fundamentally strong.
“However, the prolonged shutdown has squeezed liquidity and the pressures are becoming more acute as expenditure resumes before invoices are paid.
“A third of our workforce remains furloughed, and we want those staff coming back to work, not into redundancy.
“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.”
More than 6,000 UK automotive job cuts have been announced in June, a result of global lockdowns, closed markets and shuttered plants.
Showrooms in England and Wales are now re-opening and production lines restarting, but reduced demand and social distancing are slowing productivity.
The SMMT warns that the pending jobs crisis is amplified by the prospect of a ‘bare bones’ or no-deal Brexit.
Mike Hawes said: “COVID has consumed every inch of capability and capacity and the industry has not the resource, the time nor the clarity to prepare for a further shock of a hard Brexit.
“That’s why we do need to ‘turbo charge’ the negotiations to secure a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU that maintains tariff and quota free trade.
“With such a deal, a strong recovery is possible, we can safeguard the industry and our reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investment and a major trade player.”
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