A LEADING car seller has dismissed calls for a scheme to pay people to scrap their old vehicles that some believe is the only way to save the UK motor industry.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) recently wrote to Chancellor Alistair Darling calling for financial help in next month’s budget to stem the tide of job losses, pay and production cuts in the industry.

Demand for new cars has fallen by between 20% and 30% in recent months and the number of vehicles built in Britain this year is expected to be 700,000 fewer than in 2008.

One of the solutions put forward by the SMMT is a “scrappage” scheme, which it says has had a significant impact on the car industry in Germany, boosting sales by over a fifth, while similar arrangements were being introduced in other countries, including Holland.

The scheme would see the Government pay £2,000 towards a new car for owners of vehicles over nine years old which they have owned for more than a year.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: “Urgent action is needed to get consumers back into the showrooms and boost demand in the market.

“It is vital that car buyers are given the confidence to buy now and a scrappage incentive scheme is a clear signal which has already proved successful in other EU member states.”

But according to Robert Bradbury, the regional director of Caffyns Volkswagen, which has several showrooms in Sussex, the scheme would not work in Britain.

He said: “I don’t think the scheme would work in this country because more than a million vehicles would qualify.

“That’s £2 billion the Government would need to spend and most of the cars aren’t even built here, so the money would not be reciprocated.”

Mr Bradbury believes the Government should instead look at reducing at car tax, which has doubled for some types of vehicles due to recent Government legislation. Despite the turmoil within the motor industry, Caffyns has reported decent sales in the past few months.

Mr Bradbury said: “I would not say the industry has fallen through the floor.

“No one in this Britain is escaping the economic downturn but there are varying degrees of trouble.

“It depends on the brand you are associated with.”

Although new car sales are down 35% across the UK, Chrysler has seen sales drop by 85% while Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen now have greater market share, though sales are still down.

Mr Bradbury said: “This recession is dividing people into those with jobs and those without.

“Those with jobs are finding their mortgages are much lower so they have more money in their pockets.

“As long as they are employed and continue to get nothing from their savings then people are going to treat themselves.

“We are still selling cars. There are some brilliant deals out there because prices have come right down.”

Caffyns, which has four Volkswagen showrooms in Worthing, Portslade, Haywards Heath and Eastbourne, along with a further eight sites across Sussex, is looking to recruit another member for its customer services team following expansion at its Portslade site.

Portslade brand manager Clive Stow said: “We would welcome applications from people with experience in customer service roles.”

Anyone interested should call Caffyns on 01273 425600.