11/12/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


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In the Midlands: The warning lights are flashing Fry two speed economy.


Some firms to cut red while others get the green light and forge ahead.


And as Jaguar Land Rover make a billion, we are on the inside track


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1809 seconds


with the man who helped turn them Hello from the Midlands. After all


week when Cadbury's owners Kraft told us they were cutting 200 jobs,


but JCB announced the creation of 350, confusing, isn't it? We have


foreign economic forecast from the lake up -- Labour peer who brokered


the Indian takeover of Jaguar Land Rover. Joining JLR in the fast lane


are Amazon, Marstons Brewery and Monarch Airlines, all creating jobs


and hoping to deliver Growth. We expect unemployment figures to be


up again next week, leaving more of us stuck in the crawler lane. No


wonder there's so much talk these days about our two-speed economy.


What is to be done is a question today. Jeremy Wright, the


Conservative MP is with us, and Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour MP


who served as a Treasury minister in Tony Blair's first


administration, a Coventry and Warwickshire presence here. First,


Giles Latcham reports on three contrasting reports of the Midlands


economy at work. -- three contrasting accounts.


Slow, slower, stationary, reach for handbrake and stop, you have ground


to a halt. Haven't we? Or have we? They may not be in the fast lane


but in certain sectors of the Midlands economy, certain companies


We have the loading on the side there. Gazeley, for example, that


logistics firm which brought Amazon to Rugeley along with 900 jobs,


have yet to sell this site north of Stoke-on-Trent but are facing 2012


with optimism. This year, we started with six buildings, and we


are left with one, but we also have sites in Stoke where we have


interest from manufactures and warehouse customers looking for


development sites. That takes a lot of investment in our company and


confidence. And Gazeley are not alone. 2000 jobs in prospect in


Wolverhampton at Jaguar Land Rover's new engine plant, 1000 jobs


at Black country brewers Marstons, 200 jobs at the John Lewis store in


Tamworth. But for every green light company, there are many more,


usually smaller, enterprises, consolidating, just trying to


survive, stuck on amber. At a tool maker and injection


moulding firm in Cannock, there is not much in the way of growth. What


has the forecast? The boss, a former investment banker with a


passion for manufacturing, is relentlessly positive, and has just


spent a quarter of a million pounds on new machinery. If I run my


business listening to the media, I would probably have slit my wrists


by now. It doesn't seem like that at all. It is a complete disconnect


as far as I am concerned between what we see for 2012 and the news.


The gloom and doom about their is all-pervasive, but for us, we see a


better 2012. They still employ 25 people here and four rival firms


have gone under. By one estimate, since May last year across the


region we have lost 39,600 jobs, in the public and private sectors.


The latest forecast suggests unemployment levels been --


employment levels will languish behind the rest of the country up


to 2020. Less than encouraging for volunteers at this furniture


recycling scheme, some who have been job hunting for months, others


for years. Since I have been volunteering I have had the


confidence to be able to apply for jobs. It is not that hard now for


me to be able to have the courage to just go there and apply for them


and just send them off, even if most of the time I don't get a


reply. The larger companies seem to be, as I say, providing more and


more jobs, so fingers crossed things will get better. We still


have to have times ahead, I think. Smaller companies will struggle. It


is a case of hanging on in there to my mind, to find something.


If it is a waiting game we are playing, it is longer for some than


others. Patience, please. Yes, Granta's patience but be quick


about it. Giles Latcham reporting. Jeremy Wright, your government has


pledged to rebalance the economy. They are thinking about the gap


between north and south, but it seems the lesson of that report is


that we have those imbalances right here and around noses in the


Midlands. We do and we don't just talk about rebalancing north and


south but manufacturing, financial services, service industries, they


all need to be balanced to ensure we have a safe -- successful and


balanced economy. To help manufacturing we can ensure tax


rates are low for manufacturing companies, bring Corporation -- we


are bringing down corporation tax this year, we can look at research


and development and ensure the right tax credits available for


that, and there is good news for that in the or -- Autumn Statement,


and we can help provide a well- educated, well-trained, highly


skilled work force. Is that enough? If you look at your area, Coventry


and Warwickshire, Coventry has been hit by a private sector and public


sector job losses during your time in government, the Bonfire of


educational quangos, private sector companies before that, then science


parks on the periphery creating successful new businesses. A world


of extremes. That is true and rebalancing is also about


rebalancing between the public and private sectors, and the truth is


that we have to see, and are already seeing, are large and of


private sector jobs created, half a million nationwide since this


government came into office, but this is a painful process. I'm not


pretending that over the period of rebalancing there would be


difficulties but we are heading in the right direction. Jeremy, do you


think that is such -- sufficient to deal with the difficulties? It is


just not working. If it was working we could accept it, buckle down and


go ahead but the truth is that unemployment is rising, the economy


is stagnating and one objective of government policy is not being


achieved, the deficit reduction. They are missing the target by �168


million and unless we get out of this mindset of cutting and


increasing unemployment, shutting down factories, although we have


had wonderful successes, as Kamal Bhattacharya it shows, where we had


those successes, they don't reflect the economy as a whole. Industry


does best when the economy is rising and until we get back their


and get employment rising again, I think we will stagnate. Does it not


reinforce the point that the IPPR, the research group, says that


unemployment in this region will remain higher-than-average until


2020. It will take that long to recover from the downturn of 2008.


Unemployment is variable across the region. In my constituency the


claimant count for jobseeker's allowance is lower now than a year


ago. There are huge variations and I think I am right in saying that


the West Midlands is actually the region were the greatest variation


of the whole country. But to return to something Geoffrey says, he is


right that the general state of the economy is important, and we have


to ensure there is confidence out there, but confidence comes partly


at least, from an idea that the government has got to grips with


the main problems we face, one of which is a deficit which is far too


large, debts which are far too big. The way you resolve that is most


certainly not to do what Geoffrey's party did. I think the most


important thing the government could do right now would be


crudities in. Unfortunately everything they have tried to


arrange with the banks so far has failed there. We have talked about


reconstructing manufacturing, and what could happen now, and making


credit available and getting it into all sectors of the economy,


but particularly the productive sectors, is something they could do.


They have to get on with it and did better than so far. Money should be


made available, for companies to use it. 18-24 year-olds, one in


five unemployed, what would you do about that, Geoffrey Robinson?


would get the economy moving as a whole. Geoffrey mentions credit


easing. We are making �20 billion available for small and minute --


medium-sized businesses. The crucial question about 18-24 year


olds is more apprenticeships and better training. There will be new


apprenticeships at Level 4, equivalent of the first year of


university. Our traffic lights are moving to amber so we must pause


Few people can be better-qualified to the home truths about the state


of the economy in our part of the country than Lord Kumar


Bhattacharya, born in what is now Bangladesh. He has had the ear of


successive prime ministers since Margaret Thatcher. Things took off


for him when he came to Birmingham in his twenties. He became an


apprentice at Lucas Industries and in 1970 gained a PhD in Engineering


Production. 10 years after that, Professor


Bhattacharya founded the now world famous Warwick Manufacturing Group


at the University of Warwick. Now Baron Bhattacharya of Moseley sits


in the Lords as a Labour peer. I caught up with him in his natural


habitat, a workshop in the heart of the Warwick campus, where 350


Jaguar Land Rover and Tata research and development staff are working


on the next generations of their top-selling brands. We began by


reflecting on his key role as the link-man who'd inspired the


transfer three years ago of a much troubled JLR from American


ownership under Ford to that of Ratan Tata of India.


The company that of course, famously needed state assistance,


and then two years later, a billion pounds in profit. What a turnaround.


It is wonderful. People used to think that in the Midlands we don't


have the talent and we are all lazy, idle, and see what happens. Given


the right leadership, a lot of things can happen. Of course, the


investment we are seeing going into the new JLR engine plant near


Wolverhampton, 1000 more jobs in Solihull, Castle Bromwich, where is


this leading to and where will it end? It is great. We are at the


start of a great revival. When I speak to Ratan Tata, he always says


that Jaguar Land Rover is a Midlands icon and we have to


preserve this in the Midlands, and he supports it. Whatever is


required, he does. He comes here every month. How many chairmen come


and sit and talk to the junior and senior engineers month after month?


That is what leadership is all about. Of course, yes, we do have


great companies at the top, but the difficulty, of course, is that


beneath that there is a long trail of strugglers. That is basically


what Britain has been over the last 40 or 50 years. But it wasn't so


exposed in the past. Now that we have got great competition, it is


getting exposed. What's more, if you visit parts of the West


Midlands, the Black Country, parts of what used to be called the


Potteries, Stoke on Trent, that area, there is a shortage of skills


which really goes against the history of this part of the country.


What can be done about it? It is not a question of what a shortage


of money. If you look at the amount of money we spend in the Learning


and Skills Council, it takes two to tango. It requires the people that


want the skills to be involved with developing the skills. In the


autumn Budget, they said very good things. The business of the


regional growth fund for growth in employment, then the whole business


of research and development tax credits becoming easier and above


the bottom line, then you have the whole business of apprenticeships,


a university, Technology Colleges, science schools, there is an


alignment in government with opposition that things have to


happen. Successive governments, in a way, lost sight of the importance


of the manufacturing industry and were overruled by the City as the


next best thing after North Sea oil. -- enthralled by the City. History


will tell us that it was easy money, but it requires a tremendous shock


for things to change. We have just had that shock. People have


realised that we have to rebalance, and once that is understood, then


we can get a the young people into apprenticeships, and have one or


two icons. You require one or two icons, which acts as a market Paul


for others, and that is happening in the Midlands, I think. -- market


pool. Maintaining a strong Coventry and Warwickshire presence, Kumar


Bhattacharya. You can visit my block fought my thoughts on that


conversation. What has Jaguar Land Rover got now that it didn't when


you were in charge? It had a bad period under Ford. For the


ownership turned out to be, sadly, an unmitigated disaster, but there


were many good things there that we Jaguar base, which have come


through. We have Ratan Tata's Investment and leadership and also


a new product, which has come with key appointments, notably the chief


executive, brought in by Ratan Tata, an outstanding industrialist. They


have invested more in product and take a longer view and seek


consensus with their workforce. Those three things he has brought.


We lacked those at Rover. When they were owned by BMW they had no money,


no leadership or Investment and continuing strikes. Given the


shortage of skills we talked about in the interview, where are the


2000 or so it -- or so highly skilled people for the new engine


plant going to come from? We had training boards which ensured


companies to the training and if they didn't they had to send


employees to retain -- retrain. There is no excuse for engineering


companies saying they do not have the skills when they have not


established links with schools to get apprenticeships going and be


self-sufficient. So that is the answer, Jeremy, companies saying,


he waffles stop I don't think governments can create growth on


their own. Geoffrey is right. We have been successful in the last 18


months in creating apprenticeships at all levels, but I think there is


a broader problem. When the plant at Solihull was advertising for


jobs, they have 1000 jobs to offer and 8000 applications. The problem


is broader than that and goes down to the supply chain. JLR will tell


you they had great difficulty securing people in the supply chain


with the necessary skills. Jaguar Land Rover is an important company


because it provides jobs but also because it has an extensive supply


chain supplying to it and giving employment there as well. Geoffrey


Robinson, I was interested that Baron Bhattacharya is a Labour peer,


so he said there was a lot to welcome in the Autumn Statement,


research and development tax breaks, apprenticeships and that sort of


thing. He is talking about a realignment between the two parties


to finally get the message after this tremendous shock, after the


crash. Yes. He was right to become one of two things and be optimistic.


For certain sectors or companies you can be, but you cannot get away


from the fact that we are stagnating, laying people off, not


investing and falling further behind. Jeremy Wright. We are


behind other regions historically. Investment is happening. I accept


there are regional variations but business and industry across the


country has invested �3 billion more this year than last, so these


things are happening. What is worth bearing in mind that Jaguar Land


Rover is that is a global company who could locate manufacturing and


R&D operations anywhere in the country. There was clear


accommodation from India both for the RMT jobs and manufacturing --


clear competition. We have succeeded and securing that


investment for the UK which is good for the long-term employment


prospects in the West Midlands. Looking at the wider economy, your


Prime Minister described high-speed rail as a project that could


rebalance the economy. You are in the government but have a


constituency issue there. As I understand you're a pro high-speed


rail but anti- H S two. I have no problem with high-speed rail as a


concert. I think travelling by train or rather than plain is


better for the environment and the economy, but my problem is that I


think as currently conceived, HS two is not the best way of doing


high-speed rail. I have problems with the business case and I think


it has picked the wrong route. I think we should follow existing


transport corridors when have we can and do less environmental


damage that way. Geoffrey Robinson, you have spoken out against it, but


how can you deliver the extra capacity required without building


a new system and if we are building a new one, why build a slow one?


That is not the right way to put it. You can get the extra capacity


without building a whole new line, but there is a case for a just two,


and I am pleased to agree with Jeremy -- HS two. The point is that


you can take an east coast route following the main corridors as


they exist without smashing up the whole of the children's and lovely


parts of Warwickshire -- the whole of the children's, and to have


Spurs including Coventry and Stoke and make its own national railway.


We will talk about this again when the government comes up with its


decision in January. This is where our own lights are moving out


towards the colour red. I have to draw a halt. Thank you for joining


us today. That is just about it from the Politics Show in the


Midlands today, and indeed for this year, throughout the forthcoming


festivities, Midlands Today and local radio will be open for


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