LONDON: The UK government could be on the verge of providing a bailout to the country's ailing automotive industry, with funding possibly drawn from the £400 billion ($599bn; €444bn) warchest previously earmarked for the equally anaemic banking sector.

According to the Daily Telegraph, business secretary Lord Mandelson may offer low-cost loans to the finance arms of auto manufacturers following dire predictions over the state of the industry.

Trade union GMB estimates a quarter of the sector's 200,000 manufacturing jobs could be cut as a result of the downturn, while carmakers complain that the limited availability of credit is restricting their ability to respond to the crisis.

Says a Department for Business spokesman: "The Government is monitoring the situation at the moment. Ministers have said they want to do all they sensibly can to help viable businesses.

"The automotive industry is facing serious challenges at the moment and we need to support it."

Mandelson recently met with Ratan Tata, head of giant Indian conglomerate Tata Corporation, which owns Jaguar and Land Rover, as well as senior figures from General Motor's UK marque Vauxhall.

Denis Chick, Vauxhall's director of communications, says: "We can't get money out of banks to loan to customers to buy cars. We are doing everything we can to avoid forced redundancies."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff