Birmingham Mail : 2020-09-25

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8 @birmingham_live BIRMINGHAM MAIL FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 Council leader calls for new jobs taskforce Birmingham CIty Council leader Ian Ward By JONATHAN WALKER jobs. We need action from the mayor now to protect as many jobs as possible across the region and to help those that unfortunat­ely lose their jobs secure new employment and training opportunit­ies.” Mr Byrne, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor in next year’s mayoral elections, highlighte­d the Rover taskforce created by the last Labour government to support the West Midlands economy following the collapse of car manufactur­er MG Rover. He said: “Tony Blair and Gordon Brown showed how a dedicated and committed task force can make a real difference to people’s lives when Rover faced a massive crisis 15 years ago. What we face now is far bigger than that and needs a proportion­ate response.” A spokesman for Mr Street said: “The Mayor and the whole West Midlands Combined Authority team are acutely aware of the very serious challenges facing our citizens and the regional economy as a result of the pandemic. “That’s why from the very start of the pandemic, huge efforts have been made across the West Midlands to ensure that the economic needs of the region have been understood and responded to – with the Mayor working in co-operation with the leaders of the seven local authoritie­s which make up the West Midlands Combined Authority. “An Economic Impact Group was establishe­d in March, chaired by the Mayor, bringing together the region’s business leaders, employers and employee representa­tives to feed their concerns directly to the Mayor, our local councils and the Government, providing an ongoing and responsive approach to the economic challenges of the pandemic. This group helped produce Political Editor jonathan.walker@reachplc.com BIRMINGHAM City Council leader Ian Ward today called for a West Midlands Jobs Task Force, warning: “People across Birmingham and the wider region are facing a jobs crisis unless there is clear action.” He said: “We cannot continue this sleepwalk to mass unemployme­nt”. Coun Ward wants the task force to work with a range of partners including the Department for Work and Pension, councils, Chambers of Commerce and education and skills providers such as colleges. His call was backed by Labour MP Liam Byrne (Hodge Hill), who said: “Thousands of people are being laid off as furlough comes to an end.” It comes as analysis by thinktank Centre for Cities highlighte­d the Birmingham economy as one of those hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures released last week showed that unemployme­nt across the city increased by 2,260 to 81,525 in August, with 67 of the city’s 69 wards recording increases. Across the West Midlands, the total claiming unemployme­nt benefits was up 5,075 for the region from July to 271,905, with the Institute of Chartered Accountant­s warning that the tradition of manufactur­ing makes the region more vulnerable to unemployme­nt following the coronaviru­s crisis. Coun Ward (Lab) said: “Covid-19 has had a devastatin­g impact on our economy and now, the chancellor’s onesize-fits-all withdrawal of furlough risks creating a jobs squeeze that will put people’s livelihood­s at risk. the ‘Recharge the West Midlands’ document setting out the priorities for Government support for our region.” There is widespread concern among politician­s of all parties, as well as business leaders, about the prospect of growing unemployme­nt caused by coronaviru­s and the effects of the lockdown. “In Birmingham, the vast majority of businesses have seen a collapse in revenues, are suffering serious cashflow problems, have let staff go or even closed completely. We’re already starting to see unemployme­nt increasing across the city and sadly it’s inevitable that the situation will get worse when the furlough scheme ends.” He called on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (Con) to lead action to protect CHANCELLOR’S JOB SUPPORT SCHEME: PAGE 12 ➤ PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­r.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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