Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

ECHO COLUMN: Urgent Support for Manufacturing & Aerospace

You can read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below

There is almost no part of the economy that has not been badly affected by the impact of Coronavirus and the necessary measures taken to limit its spread.

It seems like every day brings further announcements of job losses. Behind every new tranche of numbers are individuals and families who now face a worrying and uncertain future.

Alongside manufacturing more widely, one area which is being particularly damaged is the aerospace industry. The near total suspension in air travel and continued low passenger numbers are having a significant knock on effect on companies such as Rolls-Royce.

As the MP for a constituency home to a Rolls-Royce site, I am acutely aware of the scale of the problems facing the company and its workers.

That’s why I convened an urgent meeting last week for MPs with sites in their constituencies and Unite representatives to discuss what is needed from the Government to prevent further job losses and safeguard the high level of skills in the workforce.

Whilst some aspects of Government financial assistance measures have been a lifeline, there have also been significant shortfalls.

As Unite have pointed out, steps taken by our Government pale in comparison to those taken by France and Germany. The seemingly indifferent attitude taken by this Conservative Government was summed up in the absence of any mention of the aviation or aerospace sectors in the Chancellor’s recent summer statement.

It is becoming increasingly clear that further, sector specific, support will be needed in the coming weeks and months.

As the Labour Party has made clear, we need a targeted strategy that acknowledges that workers in struggling sectors cannot and should not be treated the same way as workers in sectors that are already back to full capacity.

Growing up in the North East during the Thatcher Governments, I know how much long-term damage can be done to our communities when industries are abandoned.

If Boris Johnson wants to make good on his ‘levelling up’ rhetoric, he needs to step in and provide a comprehensive strategy to stop continued and widespread job losses in aerospace and manufacturing.

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