THE RE-OPENING of car showrooms is essential to the West Midlands economy.
So says Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who is also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group and spent 24 years working in the industry before becoming an MP. He has lobbied the Government to reopen car showrooms arguing any continuation of the closure “threatens the entire industry”.
The Government has now announced dealers can reopen from Monday (June 1) to start selling cars again.
British car manufacturing delivers £18.6billion to the economy every year and supports over 800,000 jobs – of which 590,000 are on the retail side and 167,000 are in high-skilled manufacturing, with roughly a third based in the West Midlands.
The Labour MP’s lobbying followed devastating figures from the industry as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
In April, UK car sales fell by more than 97 per cent and an independent market outlook for 2020 downgraded previous expectations to 1.68 million car registrations, which puts the sector on course to record its worst performance since 1992 – below the levels seen during the financial crisis and a more than a quarter lower than the 2.31 million new cars registered last year.
Last month, accountants KPMG estimated the West Midlands economy alone will shrink by some ten per cent due to loss of car production.
Mr Western said: “The automotive sector is hugely important to the local and national economy and needs more support. There was no logic for the Government to declare for estate agents and garden centres to be allowed to open but not car dealers. Every day counts to getting the industry back on its feet. The current closure of car showrooms is costing the taxpayer an estimated £61million per day.
“Car showrooms are critical to the industry’s success. I’m pleased that the Government have met our calls to safely reopen showrooms to give the sector a chance to survive and thrive after this crisis.
“This is the first step of many that the Government must take to secure the recovery of our vital automotive sector. I will continue to speak out on behalf of the industry to ensure we protect jobs and the contribution it makes to our economy.”