Luton's future at risk if Government pulls job focused support says MP

Fears over redundancies at Vauxhall

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 11:42 am

The loss of economic support for the motor industry could have a serious effect on the future for Luton a local MP has claimed.

Rachel Hopkins, MP for Luton South, has written to the Business Secretary demanding job focused support following the end of the furlough scheme last week.

Her intervention comes after Vauxhall announced it was entering consultation to lose 239 jobs at its Luton plant, citing a worldwide shortage of semi-conductors which made it difficult to continue production. Many of Vauxhall' s staff were still on furlough when the announcement was made.

Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins

Writing to Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Ms Hopkins said: "I am deeply concerned that the loss in production volume and capacity may not be returned in the future when supply chain issues have been addressed due to high job vacancies and the failure to retain necessary skillsets. As a result, our town will have lost skilled, unionised, well-paid manufacturing jobs. Job losses in Luton will further exacerbate the economic impact on our local economy caused by the pandemic.

"Our town and the UK need the Government to step up to protect jobs and our manufacturing industry’s competitiveness. UK businesses leaders, such as the Federation of Small Businesses, have warned of an 'autumn storm' of rising taxes, escalating costs, labour shortages, and supply disruption as support schemes come to an end. This position informs the assumption that without targeted employment support for sectors that have not recovered yet, the UK economy’s long-term growth will stagnate and living standards will suffer.

"Other countries, such as Spain, Germany, and France, have extended economic support to provide businesses the flexibility to protect jobs. The automotive sector had hoped the UK Government would do likewise.

Vauxhall in Luton (Getty)

"I would like to meet with you as a matter of urgency to seek assurances that you and your department are taking steps to address the semiconductor shortage and provide job-focused support now that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has ended."

After announcing the job cuts last month a Vauxhall spokesman told the Luton News: “As with all vehicle manufacturers globally, the semi-conductor component shortage is impacting our production sites. Therefore, we are entering a consultation period with our employees and union partners for the Luton plant to temporarily reduce the current three shifts to two.”