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BMW Group to invest a further £250m in its UK plants

The announcement brings BMW's total investment in its UK production network to £1.75bn since 2000.

The German car maker BMW Group, which invested £500m in the UK in June 2011, has announced a further £250m investment in its manufacturing operations at its facilities in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, near Birmingham, by the end of 2015. As well as supporting the company’s global strategy, this will provide job security for the 5,500 UK associates working in the Mini UK Triangle plants.

BMW said that as the volume and variety of its Mini model line-up grows, there will be additional production requirements for engines and body panels from its specialist UK facilities in Hams Hall and Swindon. Part of the new investment will be allocated to develop specific production facilities to meet these requirements.

Harald Krueger, member of the board of management at BMW Group, said:

A year ago, we announced a further investment of £500m in our UK production network by 2014 and today we are announcing an additional £250m, taking us through to 2015. This brings the total to £1.75bn since 2000.

Over the last 11 years, Mini has been a unique global success and the BMW Group has even greater plans for the future development of the brand. Plant Oxford has played a major role in this with cars being exported to over 100 countries around the world. This additional investment is great news for all our employees in the UK and shows the BMW Group’s commitment to Britain as a vital manufacturing base for us.

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said:

BMW’s ambitious plans for Mini will ensure its UK sites at Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall remain at the centre of Mini production worldwide. The investment of £250m in addition to the £500m last year demonstrates BMW’s commitment to the UK and safeguards jobs for the future.

The Oxford plant has made such an enormous contribution to the ongoing global success of the Mini brand since the BMW Group launched the new Mini in 2001. Just as Bavaria is the centre of the BMW world, so the UK is and indeed will remain the hub and the heart of Mini.

Krueger added:

Our preferred option is to establish a contract manufacturer as a satellite production as close to our UK operations as possible, at the Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, with whom BMW is in discussions. Oxford will provide special Mini production expertise for any new operation, particularly in the areas of dealing with the high complexity and customer individuality which Mini demands and in operating state-of-the-art, multi-model production lines.

BMW operates 26 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.