Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, has today (Thursday) joined forces with other West Midlands leaders to demand action from the Prime Minister to support the region in rebuilding after the pandemic.
The letter to the Prime Minister, co-signed by Liam, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, West Midlands Council Leaders and senior Trade Unionists, calls on Boris Johnson to implement an urgent economic support package to allow the West Midlands to build its way out of the Coronavirus crisis.
The call comes as figures show that only around 5% of the region’s requested £3.2 billion economic support package has so far been delivered.
Liam Byrne MP, shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“The vaccination programme is the light at the end of a long tunnel. But while the rollout continues, families and businesses across the West Midlands still face incredible financial and emotional challenges – and there never seems to be a right time for Boris Johnson’s Government to step up. We say – the time is now.
“With Britain facing the worst Coronavirus recession of any major economy, the Government must finally wake up, get stuck in and provide the support that families and businesses in our region need. Our businesses, Trade Unions and local leaders have shown extraordinary resilience and creativity throughout this pandemic – we need to finally see the same from the Government.”
The package, developed by Chambers of Commerce across the West Midlands, calls for:
- Grant support for those businesses forced to shut down completely
- An extension of business rates relief and the self-employed income support scheme
- The introduction of tax credits or partial rent grants to support landlords in offering rent waivers or reductions to businesses in genuine difficulty
- A review of the terms of the job retention scheme to ensure fewer employees slip through the cracks
- An extension of the interest free period for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Bounce Back Loans
- An extension of VAT relief measures and 100% targeted business rates relief for those sectors hardest hit
The coalition of regional leaders also calls on the Government to take a number of steps to support families across the region, as they continue to feel the financial impact of the pandemic. These include the right for working parents to request furlough, an extended ban on evictions, the end of the pay freeze for key workers, and scrapping the plan to slash Universal Credit by £1000 in April.
Liam Byrne added:
“As we begin to move out of this crisis, we need to rebuild our economy and fulfil the potential of the West Midlands. We cannot go back to the status quo - in 2021 we need to write a new chapter in our region’s story”.
The full list of co-signatories to the letter (attached) includes and the full letter can be read below.
Rt. Hon. Liam Byrne MP - Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands
David Jamieson – West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
Simon Foster – West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate
Ravi Subramanian – Regional Secretary, UNISON
Annmarie Kilcline – Regional Secretary, UNITE the UNION
Joe Morgan – Regional Secretary, GMB
Lee Barron – Regional Secretary, Midlands TUC
Cllr Ian Ward – Leader, Birmingham City Council
Cllr Ian Brookfield – Leader, Wolverhampton City Council
Cllr George Duggins – Leader, Coventry City Council
Cllr Maria Crompton – Deputy Leader, Sandwell Borough Council
Cllr Aftab Nawaz - Leader of the Opposition, Walsall Borough Council
Cllr Qadar Zada – Leader of the Opposition, Dudley Borough Council