Britain's troubled manufacturing industry, including those companies which make textiles, garments and foot wear, will be thrust into the spotlight next month at a special meeting organised by concerned ministers.

Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt today unveiled plans to hold a Manufacturing Summit to tackle the tough challenges facing manufacturing firms in every region and nation of the UK.

The summit will bring together business, trade union and development agency leaders to ensure the best co-ordinated use of local and national resources to assist people and firms who may be going through major structural change.

At the same time, the government will give its network of regional development agencies an extra £500 million funding to help implement projects and schemes that will boost the UK's various manufacturing industries.

Unveiling the plans at a press conference on Monday, Ms Hewitt said: "There is real pain in our manufacturing industry - workers with 10, 20 and 30 years of skill and experience gutted to find themselves thrown out of work.

"I shall be holding a Manufacturing Summit, bringing together the development agencies, the Trade Union Congress, Confederation of British Industry and the devolved administrations - people who can act today and build manufacturing industry for the future.

"Our industrial strategy cannot be imposed from the top - it has to be built in every nation and region."

She added: "We are strengthening the Regional Development Agencies - and giving them more money - to lead to the creation of a high-wage high-skill economy in their region. I want to see more of that money invested in the future of our manufacturing workers."