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Government exploring possible help for Norfolk Lotus workers whose jobs are at risk

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:10 21 September 2014

The work force leaving the Lotus factory at Hethel after the announcement of job losses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The work force leaving the Lotus factory at Hethel after the announcement of job losses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The government has confirmed it is exploring whether Group Lotus workers at risk of redundancy could be given help to get back into work.

The Hethel-based sports car manufacturer announced on Thursday that the jobs of up to 325 of its staff – a figure equal to more than a quarter of its global workforce – were at risk due to restructuring.

Workers have now entered a 45-day consultation with the company, but it is likely to be 90 days before it becomes clear how many salaried staff and agency workers will be affected.

Sources close to the company said as many as 270 jobs might be at risk in Norfolk, although the company denied the figures and said no decisions on where they jobs could go had been made.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills yesterday confirmed that business secretary Vince Cable had been talking to South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon about the situation.

A spokesman for the government department confirmed it was exploring whether the workers could be helped through the government’s Talent Retention Solution scheme.

Described by Dr Cable as like an ‘eBay’ for engineers, the web-based scheme matches specialists whose jobs may be at risk or people with companies that are looking to recruit skilled staff to satisfy growth in their companies.

Council leaders also said the Hethel Engineering Centre could support any designers or engineers who lose their jobs at Lotus.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “The news is clearly deeply disappointing and public bodies in Norfolk will be exploring any ways in which the staff affected can be helped. We should not be despondent. Lotus still remains a significant employer in the county and demand for skilled staff in the engineering sector remains strong.”

And John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk District Council said “In previous years, ex-Lotus employees had little choice but to move away. Nowadays there are more alternative job opportunities in related sectors close-by and council-owned premises on reasonable terms to support those who wish to change direction and start up their own business.”

• Have you been affected by the decision? Contact business editor Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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