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Car sector seeks more UK government support as output tumbles

·1-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak should use next week's budget statement to help boost the car industry's competitiveness, a trade industry body said on Friday, as production tumbled to its lowest January level since 2009.

Sunak is due to detail how he will further support the economy amid COVID-19 restrictions on March 3.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the furlough scheme that protects jobs should be extended, more support for training was needed and manufacturing investment should be encouraged through reform of the business rates tax.

"Next week's budget is the chancellor's (finance minister) opportunity to boost the industry by introducing measures that will support competitiveness, jobs and livelihoods," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

"We need to secure our medium to long-term future by creating the conditions that will attract battery gigafactory investment and transform the supply chain."

Output in January fell by 27% year-on-year to 86,052 vehicles, hit by factors including dealership closures during a latest COVID-19 lockdown, international supply chain problems and the change in trading terms with the European Union.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by William Schomberg)