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Mandelson to reveal plans to boost car industry

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by Kay Mitchell
”Mandelson

Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, will this afternoon unveil plans to help the struggling car industry since the economic downturn has meant that car sales have plummeted in recent times.

However, No. 10 have said that the support is ‘not a bailout’ but is expected to include measures such as guarantees for loans to the industry to assist with short-term finance to help the industry through the economic crisis.

The proposals were approved by the Cabinet earlier today after months of pressure on the Government to take action. Lord Mandelson will give the announcement after 3pm today.

Lord Mandelson will also meet tomorrow with officials from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who have been urging Government to take action after it warned that the industry was “battling” for its survival.

Many car manufacturers have been forced to place their employees on 3 or 4 day weeks, while Jaguar Land Rover announced 450 job losses earlier this month and Japanese car maker Nissan cut 1,200 jobs at its Sunderland plant.

It is a similar story throughout the world. The French Government last week said it would offer up to €6 billion (£5.5 billion), to avoid major companies such as Renault from collapse.

Meanwhile, in the US, General Motors and Chrysler have received billions of dollars in order to avoid bankruptcy. The two companies, along with Ford, warned in December that millions of jobs could be lost in the industry if the Government did not agree to a package of loans.

Gordon Brown’s spokesman said earlier “Lord Mandelson and the Department have been making clear that, in our view, the car industry is a sector with a strong future. So not only are we in a position to provide some support to help them get through this difficult period but also, and this will be a very important part of the announcement, this is about how we provide the right support for them in the future.”

Around 800,000 people are employed in the UK car industry.

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News posted: January 27, 2009

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