DIGGER manufacturer JCB yesterday announced a £150 million investment which will create an estimated 2,500 jobs in the Midlands.
The firm wants to expand its UK operations, including the construction of two factories, over the next five years in its biggest ever investment.
Under the plans, factories will be built near Uttoxeter and Cheadle, Staffordshire, and its nearby assembly line in Rocester will get a major extension.
An estimated 7,500 jobs will also be supported in the supply chain.
The plans were announced during a visit to the Rocester site by Chancellor George Osborne who said the creation of manufacturing jobs and growth across the country – not just in London – were key to the plan for a “responsible recovery” set out in his Autumn Statement.
Osborne claimed manufacturing had halved as a share of the UK economy under the last government and that it was crucial that Britain had “one of the most competitive tax systems in the world” to attract jobs and investment back into the country.
Under JCB’s plans, jobs will be returning from France and Belgium, with Osborne pointing to that example as proof the government’s strategy was working, together with recent announcements of new investment from China.
Speaking after a tour of the firm’s 175-acre site in Rocester, he said: “It’s great news to see 2,500 manufacturing and engineering jobs here at JCB – that’s because the government has been able to invest in infrastructure in this area and it’s an example of how the economic plan is working.
JCB chairman Lord Bamford said the decision over the investment had been confirmed after the government announced a major road improvement project in the area.
“Our plan to create 2,500 high-quality manufacturing jobs locally is clear evidence of the important link between infrastructure improvement and job creation,” he said.
“The decision to invest in the regional infrastructure means JCB can continue to invest locally, which is good for Staffordshire and good for Britain, especially given the wider benefits to our UK supply chain.”
When Osborne was asked if there would be any future slackening of austerity measures as the economic picture improved, he replied “the job isn’t done”.
He said: “I want to make sure there are many more jobs being created at places like JCB and the manufacturing businesses around Britain so that we don’t make the mistakes of the past and just have a recovery in the City of London but we have a recovery around the country.”
JCB currently operates 11 plants in the UK and the same number overseas.
The projected growth in machine production from Staffordshire factories will be supported by an increase in manufacture of components from factories elsewhere in the UK, including engines from JCB Power Systems in Foston, Derbyshire, and axles and gearboxes from JCB Transmissions in Wrexham, North Wales.