Manufacturing firms back Leicester MP Jon Ashworth's call for more Government help
Business owners and leaders have backed an MP's calls that more Government help should be given to the county's manufacturing firms.
Jon Ashworth, Labour member for Leicester South, claimed the region has not received its fair share of a multi-billion-pound scheme aimed at fuelling businesses' growth.
He made his comments during a Parliamentary debate held on Tuesday about the state of manufacturing in the East Midlands.
Mr Ashworth said the region's companies had been given a disproportionately low figure from the Government's Regional Growth Fund (RGF) in the past two years.
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"I agree that trade and increasing exports are an important part of the rebalancing of the economy that we want to see, and supporting our manufacturing base is vital to our exports," said Mr Ashworth.
"The Regional Growth Fund is supposed to be part of driving that rebalancing. Yet, consistently and sadly, the East Midlands has lost out."
Patrick Firmager, products manager at window and door manufacturer, Tru Frame, of Melton, said the company had never received any Government help but, with it, could expand and create jobs much more quickly.
"It's something we have felt a bit cheated on, whereas we have seen competitors in Wales and Scotland get leg-ups to develop their manufacturing plants.
"The closest we ever got was an interest free loan for an air compressor but we missed out on that.
"As a growing business we are doing what we can but it's all with our own money.
"I think as a manufacturing business you get used to not getting Government help."
Alex Brucciani, managing director of hygiene product manufacturer Pal International, in Lutterworth, said the Government needed to make its funding criteria apply to the real world.
He said: "There are sporadically bits of funding available but they seem to suit whatever the Government's topic of the day is.
"We find 90 per cent of the investment we make into the company is self-funded. With a bit of extra help we could boost our infrastructure."
Chief executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, Martin Traynor, said Government help was available but firms needed to be made more aware of this and "hand-held" when it came to the complex application process.
He said: "Manufacturing still plays a significant role in the Leicester and Leicestershire economy – accounting for 17 per cent compared with the national average of 11 per cent.
"Support for high-growth firms is available – Pera in Melton is an example of Government support.
"However, more needs to be done to attract RGF funding and businesses need to be hand-held in order to know it exists in the first place and how to apply."
Speaking in the debate on Tuesday, Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said a number of manufacturers in his constituency were thriving thanks to Government assistance.
He singled out Castle Donington-based Norton Motorcycles.