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McVitie's Tollcross factory proposed closure

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 18 August 2021

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Notes that the Tollcross McVitie’s employs 468 people from across Glasgow East; declares that as such the proposed closure of the factory would be equivalent to economic Armageddon to what is already a fragile local economy; notes throughout the pandemic, Pladis Global’s employees worked at the Tollcross factory as key workers whilst much of the country safely worked from home; notes the workforce has been loyal and committed for many years, with some employees working at the Tollcross factory for decades; notes that many employees also have a family history of working at the factory and in some cases, several generations of the same family currently work at the factory simultaneously; notes that the McVitie’s company has had a continuous presence in Scotland since 1839 and that the brand has become synonymous with Scotland; declares that Pladis should honour the history of the McVitie’s brand in Scotland and the loyal workforce in the Tollcross factory and fully engage with local and national government, and ultimately reverse the proposal to close the Tollcross site.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to engage with Pladis and advise them to reverse the proposal to close the Tollcross site.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 15 June 2021; Vol. 697, c. 236.]

[P002669]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kwasi Kwarteng):

The Government recognise that this must be a deeply worrying time for all employees affected by plans to close the McVities factory at Tollcross, as well as for their families and the communities in which they live. These workers are the force behind the global success of the McVities brand, some of whom belong to families who have worked at the Tollcross factory going back generations. They should rightly be proud to be part of its century long history, making the famous biscuits that have been household names in Britain for decades and that are equally enjoyed by people all over the world. The importance of the Tollcross factory to the local community and the regional economy cannot be understated.

Working with the Scottish Government and other partners—including the Action Group co-chaired by Kate Forbes MSP and Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken—the Government will do all they can to support every worker affected, including through the Department for Work and Pensions, Job Centre Plus, as well as the support they are able to access through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) in Scotland. Access to redundancy help and job search advice will also be available through The Department for Work and Pension’s Job Help campaign website.

There is also information on gov.uk and updated information packs provided to employers to help them signpost employees to the support that is available. This support includes:

connecting people to jobs in the local labour market;

help with job searches, including CV writing, interview skills, where to find jobs and how to apply for them;

help to identify transferable skills and skills gaps (linked to the local labour market) along with advice on what benefits they may get and how to claim.

Additionally, the Government’s Plan for Jobs is helping support businesses to recover from the pandemic and create more jobs, with measures such as VAT cuts, business rates relief, and cash grants for the most affected sectors.

While we recognise this is a commercial decision for the company, we encourage Pladis to work in a responsible and compassionate way with their employees, and engage constructively with the Action Group to carefully consider any counterproposals put forward. BEIS Ministers and officials stand ready to work with the Scottish Government to ensure a bright future for Tollcross employees, so that their skills can continue to be used to benefit the local economy in Glasgow and more widely.

The UK Internal Market Act 2020 provides the opportunity for the UK Government to complement and strengthen support given to citizens, businesses and communities across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. For the first time in decades, we can provide direct financial support to regenerate town centres and high streets, improve local transport links and infrastructure, and invest in cultural, sporting and economic development that can level up the whole UK.

We will boost funding for communities, with the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund to support local infrastructure and £220 million to invest in local areas ahead of launching the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022. This is in addition to the £1 billion Glasgow City Deal that supports tens of thousands of new jobs through infrastructure but also through innovative industries including high tech manufacturing, life sciences and advanced design.

Manufacturing is so often the economic anchor in local communities, providing good, well-paid jobs. The Tollcross site is no exception. BEIS is in regular dialogue with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise and will continue to work with them, not only to support the Scottish Government’s effort to help those affected, but the broader manufacturing industry and economy in Scotland.