The government has unveiled a £16m aid package to help the UK’s beleaguered automotive suppliers, especially those likely to be hit by the planned closure of Honda’s car factory.
Business secretary Greg Clark announced the package as he chaired a meeting of a taskforce set up to try to save the Swindon plant.
In February Honda said it would close its Swindon car plant in 2021, with the loss of about 3,500 jobs. Currently Honda builds 160,000 Honda Civics a year in Swindon.
The government’s new National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels programme will provide advice on training and funding opportunities and support to make the most of the latest technologies in a bid to keep UK automotive suppliers at the cutting edge of their industries.
The government said the package would offer support to SME automotive suppliers across the country, advising how best to evolve their products and processes to meet customers’ future needs. Initially the help will be given to suppliers hit by closure of the Honda factory.
Representatives from the Departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and for International Trade met automotive suppliers to discuss potential opportunities to compete and grow new business both in the UK and internationally.
The government also pledged to support the Society for Motor Manufacturers by providing supply chain companies with access to the Meet the Buyer event – the UK automotive sector’s largest buyer supplier matching event.
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “All of us on the Honda Swindon Taskforce are determined to keep pressing the case for Honda to remain in the UK...with the expert companies in Honda’s supply chain a key part of Swindon’s offer.
“We design and manufacture world-beating components and technology solutions and this new program will ensure our supply chain sector remains at the top of their game, both here in the UK and internationally, by keeping up with the latest technological developments.”
While there has been speculation Honda’s decision to close the Swindon plant was caused by Brexit, Honda blamed “unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale” and the need to respond swiftly to the demand for the electrification of vehicles.
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