GKN Automotive: Birmingham Plant

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 6th July 2021.

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Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

What recent discussions he has had with representatives of GKN Automotive on the viability of its factory in Birmingham being used as part of the national infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

My noble Friend the Minister for Investment met representatives of GKN Automotive on 21 May. GKN committed to considering all the viable alternatives to closure, including repurposing the Birmingham plant to produce parts for electrical vehicles, but it concluded that that was not commercially viable. The Government stand ready to assist the workers at this difficult time. I add that Nissan’s recent announcement shows that we are actively supporting UK electric vehicle production and supply chain growth.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

In April, in a Westminster Hall debate, the Minister said:

“The Government are committed to doing what we can to save those…jobs” of the 519 GKN workers, including through

“investments in capital equipment or in the skills needed to secure future vehicle technology.”—[Official Report, 28 April 2021; Vol. 693, c. 128-129WH.]

Those commitments were warmly welcomed. Does she understand that if the site on Chester Road closes with 519 job losses, it will be a hammer blow to the families of those workers, but also to the UK automotive sector at a time when we need to be powering ahead with electric vehicle technology?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The hon. Member makes a really important point. He will know that I have every sympathy with GKN; he will also know that we have been having ongoing conversations recently. However, it is really a difficult situation. The Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus work coaches will provide bespoke advice and guidance. In addition, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull local enterprise partnership have several programmes that can support GKN employees to reskill for a new job or help them to start their own business.