UK car sector warns on coronavirus: "companies need cash immediately"

Credit: REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE

By Costas Pitas

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - Britain's car sector needs immediate cash and the government should introduce measures to support suppliers, some of which only have enough money to handle the coronavirus crisis for weeks not months, the head of the main trade body told Reuters.

The country's biggest exporter of goods employs over 800,000 people, many of whom work for component and part-makers supplying big factories, all of which are currently shut.

The government has announced several schemes including paying 80% of salaries, up to 2,500 pounds ($3,065) a month per employee, to those placed on a leave of absence, known as furloughing. It is not available until the end of the month.

"The supply chain are really concerned about how quickly they can access finance because they need it now," the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Mike Hawes told Reuters.

"They won't have weeks upon weeks of funding to sustain them," he said.

The temporary suspension of tax contributions on personnel, business rates administered by local councils and a levy on apprenticeships should all be options, he said.

"Companies need cash immediately," he added.

(Editing by Stephen Addison)

((Costas.Pitas@thomsonreuters.com; 02075428024; Reuters Messaging: costas.pitas.thomsonreuters@reuters.net and @Cpitas on Twitter))

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