A FORMER minister has called on the government to back Midlands manufacturing as the region looks to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Margot James, the former MP for Stourbridge and Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, was speaking in her role as Executive Chair of WMG at the University of Warwick, on the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest #PolicyHour call.
Margot, who was raised in Coventry, said manufacturers needed more support in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
She said the government could stimulate both the sector and the region by securing crucial research and development jobs, and by delivering on its manifesto pledge to build a ‘Gigafactory’ – which would make batteries for electric vehicles – saying that Coventry and Warwickshire would be a natural location for the investment.
She said: “Manufacturing needs more backing. We are working with the West Midlands mayor, Andy Street, to ask Government to support research and development jobs in manufacturing.
“If we can protect those jobs, we are protecting the future of a very important industry for the UK and for this region.
“Sales are slowly recovering but investment hasn’t recovered and that is where government support is vitally needed.
“These are highly skilled jobs, which we will need to build our economic recovery in the short, medium and long term.
“Another way the government could support the sector would be to honour its election manifesto promise to build a Gigafactory, and Coventry and Warwickshire, the home of British automotive innovation, would be the natural location.
“Everyone in the region is behind this bid. The Mayor, the City Council and relevant District Council can get all of the planning in place and ensure that there is the necessary energy supply available.
“If we can get this factory built here it would make this area an even more attractive place for investment in the automotive sector in the future. It’s not about simply protecting what we have, it’s about looking to the future.”
Sean Rose, policy officer at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it had been a very informative call.
He said: “There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector needs more support in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were delighted to welcome Margot James onto the call, who spoke of her admiration for the Chamber in work it does on behalf of business in the region.
“Not only was it a chance for her to raise this issue, we connected Margot James with some local businesses that proved to be extremely useful for all concerned.
“It’s a further example of just how important our #PolicyHour calls have been over the past few months in keeping businesses across the region connected with decision makers.”