Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced a ‘significant’ investment package in the UK’s life sciences and manufacturing sectors ahead of Wednesday’s Spring Budget.

The £360 million pledge includes £92m joint government and industry investment to expand facilities to manufacture life-saving medicines and diagnostics products; £200m joint investment in zero-carbon aircraft technology to develop a more sustainable aviation sector; and almost £73m in automotive technology.

£7.5m of the funding will support two pharmaceutical companies who are investing a combined £84m to expand their manufacturing plants in the UK. Almac, a pharmaceutical company in Northern Ireland produces drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, heart disease and depression, while Ortho Clinical diagnostics in Pencoed, Wales, is expanding its facilities producing testing products used to identify a variety of diseases and conditions.

The automotive funding will support the development of electric vehicle technology, including four projects which are developing technologies for the next generation of battery electric vehicles, making them more efficient and competitive – led by companies including automotive manufacturers YASA and Empel Systems.

This funding is also supporting a project led by Integrals Power, developing and scaling up high-performance battery systems ahead of testing their mass-commercialisation, enhancing safety, power density and cost-efficiency.

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The government says it has already spent over £2 billion to accelerate the uptake of zero emission vehicles, despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s U-turn which saw a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles delayed by five years to 2035.

“We’re sticking with our plan by backing the industries of the future with millions of pounds of investment to make the UK a world leader in manufacturing, securing the highly-skilled jobs of the future and delivering the long-term change our country needs to deliver a brighter future for Britain,” said Conservative Chancellor Hunt.

However Labour’s shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the government is “incapable of providing the long-term stability manufacturing needs to thrive”.

He added: “Recycled announcements won’t be enough to turn around the lowest business investment in the G7.”

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