The region’s beleaguered automotive industry has been boosted with the launch of a £3.5 million fund.
The money, which will come from Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund, has been announced just days after an MPs’ report revealed that not a single penny of a £2.3 billion loan fund for the sector had been successfully accessed since it was launched in January.
This new funding is designed to provide struggling component part makers with up to £50,000 of specialist strategic consultancy to help with business consolidation, refinancing, introducing new products and restructuring.
The Automotive Recovery programme will be delivered by the Manufacturing Advisory Service in partnership with Accelerate and will look to help more than 120 companies. It is anticipated that this dedicated support will safeguard up to 1,000 jobs in the supply chain.
Ian Austin, West Midlands Taskforce chairman and Regional Minister, said: “This funding package is a direct response to the current problems facing the automotive industry and highlights the Taskforce and Advantage West Midlands’ commitment to helping this vital part of the region’s industrial sector to weather the recessionary storm.
“I urge companies to come forward and to start benefitting from the expertise and knowledge available.”
Colin Tivey, chairman of MAS-WM and former vehicle line director at Land Rover, said: “Grants ranging from £10,000 to £50,000 are immediately available for firms that have been hit by the recession and they can use the money to bring in quality approved manufacturing and business consultants to help work with them on strategic issues that will move them forward.
“A lot of these businesses are world-class, added-value operations, employing highly skilled people. They have been hit by a global decline in sales way out of their control and they deserve all the support we can provide.
“The first step is to make sure suppliers withstand the current economic downturn and are still around when car volumes pick up again. The second is to make sure that we create businesses that are in a better position than ever before to really drive the future of the automotive sector.”
Mick Laverty, chief executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “What we have tried to do with this funding is generate a programme that delivers strategic support exactly where it is needed and support that will produce immediate and long-term benefits to productivity and the bottom line.
“The supply chain currently accounts for more than 1,500 companies, 110,000 jobs and annual turnover in excess of £10 billion, so it is in everyone’s interest that these companies are supported.”
n For more information contact 0845 245 0845 or visit www.mas-wm.org