UK car sector launches scheme to back struggling suppliers amid COVID hit

FILE PHOTO: Bentley cars go through final quality control as they come off the production line at their factory in Crewe, Britain January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s car industry body launched a scheme backed by the government on Tuesday to support struggling suppliers and prevent more job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘Safe Harbour Scheme’ will allow multiple companies to support critical suppliers without being at risk of flouting anti-competition rules as output slumps, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Businesses will work with customers, lenders and creditors to reduce the chance of insolvencies, with the SMMT facilitating the engagement so that measures can be found to keep firms operating. At least 14,000 industry jobs have gone so far in 2020.

“(The scheme) should provide valuable breathing space as the sector restarts and business and consumer confidence recovers,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Michael Holden