Firm given Cable's £32m backing to shed jobs

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Agusta Westland, the maker of Apache, Merlin and Lynx military helicopters, has become the latest victim of Government spending cuts, announcing up to 375 layoffs in the UK.

Barely two months ago, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, visited its factory in Yeovil, Somerset, to announce a £32m investment in the company that would safeguard and create jobs. But yesterday it embarked on a major restructuring that could see more than 10 per cent of its 3,600-strong UK workforce losing their jobs.

AgustaWestland blamed the job cuts – which will mainly fall at its headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire – on reductions in defence spending by the UK and governments around the world.

After the shock revision of Britain's GDP growth for the second quarter – from 0.2 per cent to 0.1 per cent – and with the outlook for the global economy deteriorating, the company expects demand to keep falling.

The job losses are a blow to the Government's bid to help Britain manufacture its way out of the slump by "rebalancing" the economy away from services industries and were announced fewer than two weeks after BAE Systems said it would cut 3,000 UK jobs.