Thursday 27 August 2020 / 10:30 PM Business / Lucy Powell

Tories turning their back on “levelling up” pledge by failing to support struggling automotive sector

Tories turning their back on ‘levelling up’ pledge – as new analysis finds three in four jobs in struggling automotive sector are in places they promised to protect 

  • Labour warns of threat to world leading automotive sector as production plummets during lockdown
  • The sector is vital to livelihoods in the North, Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, with three quarters of automotive jobs in these areas
  • Labour is calling for targeted support for sectors hit hardest by coronavirus

Labour is today calling for action to protect the UK’s world leading automotive sector, as the impact of coronavirus threatens jobs and businesses in the sector.

The automotive sector has been one of the worst affected by coronavirus, with production down an astonishing 99.7% in April.

Without urgent action, the government risks turning its back on communities and workers in seats they promised to protect across the North, Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales where three in four automotive jobs are found.

New analysis of the latest Business Register and Employment Survey shows 76% of direct employment in the automotive industry is in these areas – 127,000 people out of 166,000 in Great Britain as a whole.

Of the 50 seats with the highest proportion of employment by the automotive industry, the vast majority are in the North, Midlands, Yorkshire, and Wales. The seat with the highest proportion of automotive jobs is Washington and Sunderland West, with 10,000 jobs and 22% of the seat’s workforce in the automotive industry.

The automotive industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, due largely to its dependence on exports and complex international supply chains.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in June car production was down around 50% when compared to the year before. Production plunged to a huge 99.7% in April at the height of lockdown, whilst new car registrations were down 97%.

Overall, car production was down by nearly half in the first half of the year, with the SMMT estimating job losses of over 11,000. For 2020 as a whole, the SMMT expects production to fall by nearly a third.

Labour is calling for targeted support for the industry and its supply chain. It is urging the government to explore the possibility of fast tracking measures from the Automotive Sector Deal or Road to Zero strategy, with a focus on creating green jobs and ensuring the UK leads the way in the decarbonisation challenge at the pace and scale the climate emergency demands.


Lucy Powell, Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said: 

“The UK’s world-leading automotive industry has been rocked by coronavirus and livelihoods are on the line. But Ministers won’t listen to reason and are refusing to recognise some sectors have been hit harder than others.

“They must urgently target support at the sectors that need it with a focus on creating skilled, green jobs – and do right by the communities across the UK they promised to protect.

“Anything less would be a betrayal of many communities which helped get Boris Johnson elected.”