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MP says growth and investment vital for future of region's economy

A city MP has said that strong growth is vital when it comes to boosting living standards for people across the region.

Pat McFadden poses with Joseph Ash Director of Business Improvement Stuart Whitehouse and Natwest CEO Alison Rose at Joseph Ash Galvanising Plant in Bilston

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden said he was concerned about the low growth of the economy and how the country was top of the G7 inflation league, stating that there were a number of factors that had caused this to happen.

The Labour MP was accompanied by Natwest CEO Alison Rose on a visit to two local businesses, Joseph Ash Galvanising Plant, and Hill and Smith Barriers, both in Bilston.

It followed an appearance at the Natwest Regional Growth Conference at Molineux.

Mr McFadden, who has served as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury since 2021, said economic growth was essential for the region's future.

He said: "Alison Rose is the chief executive of Natwest Group, one of the biggest banks in the country, and has come to Wolverhampton to speak to a local conference about regional economic growth, which is the big exam question for the future prosperity of the country.

"It's what we need to make the economy stronger and have people better off and businesses are in a tough environment because energy costs have grown a lot and the country and, indeed, the West Midlands hasn't had enough economic growth, which is why Natwest has arranged this conference.

"There's a lot of things that we need to do to improve and we need to get the right skills mix in our workforce, improve our trading position and we also need the right partnership between government and business."

Mr McFadden called for improvements on "trade and stability" to help Britain's economy grow.

He said: "There's not enough investment and the country doesn't move forward enough, so the UK simply has to improve its economic growth if we're going to make the economy stronger and improve people's living standards.

"There have been some external shocks which have affected every country, such as the energy shock after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Covid pandemic.

"Despite the international aspect, the UK is top of the G7 inflation league and we've had the slowest recovery from the pandemic of any G7 country, so there are specific UK things that are holding us back.

"Some of this has been the consequences of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, but some of it is also because of the disastrous mini-budget last September, which cast a question mark over the UK as a home for investment.

"Going forward, we need to do better on trade and on stability so that investors can look at the UK with confidence."

Mr McFadden also addressed issues with the automotive industry, after it emerged that a new gigafactory has been lined up for Somerset and not the West Midlands.

He said that while he would have preferred to see it come to the West Midlands, he was pleased to see the factory being built in the country as opposed to being built abroad and said the region would still benefit from it.

He said: "It's still good news for the UK automotive industry and the West Midlands because the batteries being made there will be going into cars which are being made here, so it's all part of one system.

"What was really important is that even though I would have loved to have had it here in the Midlands, the UK has become the location for the factory and it looks like it's heading that way.

"We know that we're making close to half the number of cars we were a few years ago as Honda have pulled out and we've had companies like Vauxhall telling us we've got to improve the post-Brexit trading position, so of course, we are right to have concerns.

"However, if we can get that Gigafactory built, it will be a really big boost to the industry as the truth is that unless you're making the batteries, the danger is that in the long run, you won't be making the cars.

"There is definitely hope for the future and while we've got to do better than we've been doing, I think with the right change in policies and the right change in attitude, we can do better than we've been doing."

Pat McFadden was given a rundown of how the plant works and how it remain sustainable as part of the visit
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