Tax­pay­ers un­der­write £500m of loans to car gi­ant Ford

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Alan Tovey

TAX­PAY­ERS will un­der­write £500m of loans to Ford as min­is­ters fight to boost ex­ports by the au­to­mo­tive ti­tan’s Bri­tish busi­ness.

The cash is be­ing pro­vided as part of a £625m pack­age handed out by a syndicate of banks, with state-owned UK Ex­port Fi­nance of­fer­ing a back­stop if a chunk of the loans turn bad.

Liz Truss, the Trade Sec­re­tary, an­nounced the deal on a visit to Ford’s

Da­gen­ham plant, which builds engines that are ex­ported to the com­pany’s plants around the world. Ford has around 13,000 staff in Bri­tain.

Last year Jaguar Land Rover agreed a pack­age of the same size un­der sim­i­lar con­di­tions. The cash is in­tended to help Bri­tain’s au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try thrive af­ter Brexit – and will be par­tic­u­larly wel­come fol­low­ing a near-to­tal col­lapse in car sales dur­ing lock­down.

Ford said the money will be used to fund de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric ve­hi­cles and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, along with sup­port­ing the work on next-gen­er­a­tion vans at the com­pany’s de­sign cen­tre in Dun­ton, Es­sex.

The car­maker in­sisted the fund­ing is not an emer­gency bailout, say­ing it ap­plied for sup­port pre-pan­demic. How­ever, it high­lights the UK’s lack of sup­port for its au­to­mo­tive sec­tor when com­pared to peer Euro­pean states.

France, Ger­many, Italy and Spain are pump­ing bil­lions of eu­ros into their car sec­tors. Aid in­cludes di­rect loans, along with scrap­page schemes of­fer­ing up to €6,000 (£5,420) to en­cour­age mo­torists to buy new ve­hi­cles.

By con­trast, min­is­ters have all but ruled out a Covid pack­age for car firms on this side of the Chan­nel.

Bar­clays, Citibank, NatWest, Lloyds and Su­mit­omo Mit­sui are pro­vid­ing the loans to Ford.

How­ever, the sup­port may not be enough to lift Ford’s ex­ports from the UK un­less the Gov­ern­ment se­cures trade deals quickly as Brexit looms.

Liz Truss, the Trade Sec­re­tary, vis­ited Ford’s Da­gen­ham plant and said that the car gi­ant will re­ceive a £625m pack­age from banks with tax­pay­ers un­der­writ­ing £500m of the funds

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