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I totally agree with my hon. Friend. The business rates situation handicaps the industry in this country and puts it at a significant disadvantage to competitors on the continent. Added to that are the energy costs that it faces: on average, there is a 74% premium on the energy costs on the continent.
Major manufacturers have told me that their greatest concern is that there seems to be little concern from the Government. It is disheartening that this apparent lack of interest flies in the face of the industry’s importance to our overall economy. The financial services sector is held up as the great driver of UK national wealth, but it is worth remembering the increasingly important contribution of the UK motor vehicle manufacturing industry. According to the Library, it generated £15.2 billion of value to the economy in 2017, which is 0.8% of total output. More relevantly, it represents 8% of manufacturing output. Likewise, it employed 162,000 people across the UK in 2016, equating to 1% of all UK employees.
In UK manufacturing, the automotive industry is the second most investment-intensive sector for total investment as a proportion of gross value added, although it is top in value terms, investing £3.6 billion in 2015. The west midlands has the largest number of people employed in the manufacture of vehicles in any UK region or country—perhaps that is why this subject is so close to my heart. The 54,000 employees in our region represent around a third of all motor industry employees in the UK.