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The big picture: The jobless threat tips balance

The industry needs to unite behind the SMMT’s campaign for Government action. Combined, the SMMT, RMIF, ADF, GEA, VBRA and others can make a case for some support – after all, this is an industry that employs 850,000 people while it provides for many more.It’s time for the associations to really earn their membership fees by exploiting those close contacts with the Government they keep telling us they have.

And Gordon Brown now has a bit more influence in the market since he acquired stakes in the leading banks (on taxpayers’ behalf, of course!).

The Government will not act unless it comes under real pressure – the threat of unemployment is real pressure.

If the industry stands to lose a few hundred dealerships, some suppliers and possibly a car plant or two, it would add thousands to the list of unemployed. Labour can ill afford those national headlines. 

But the case can only be made by a united industry speaking with one voice.

Individuals also have a role. Retailers, repairers and suppliers need to speak to their MPs and the wider industry and request action to put funds back into the economy. 

The VED argument is a case in point; if next year’s increases and retrospective rebanding are put on hold and the First
Year Rate scheme abandoned, it would send a strong signal from the Government that it understands the pressures facing
the industry. 

The people who would most benefit from these decisions are those on lower incomes – precisely the people who the Prime Minister pledged to protect at the recent Labour Party conference.

The industry also needs to debate what it can do to influence change. The SMMT suggests one area for discussion is skills.
“We can’t have people drifting out of the industry because of the financial difficulties,” said its chief executive Paul Everitt.

Every association member needs to push the debate. What do you want the SMMT and RMIF to do?

  • And how, if at all, can AM help? Email me: or leave your comments below

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