“A step in the right direction – but still a £2 million a day hit for West Midlands furloughed workers” - Byrne 

 

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement this afternoon, Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands said; 

“This is a step in the right direction, but we have to be brutally honest with people. 

The Chancellor’s announcement is a £2 million a day pay-cut for furloughed workers in the West Midlands, 99% of Birmingham's businesses have been left out of the grant scheme and many will now go to the wall, while the self-employed are now looking at an almost 50% pay cut. Bluntly, this package will still mean jobs lost and families plunged into poverty at Christmas.  

“The Prime Minister said he’d do whatever it takes to get us through this crisis. What we needed today was a deal that kept the West Midlands in business - and kept West Midlands families out of foodbanks. We didn’t get that deal today, so the talks have to go on. 

“After all the sacrifice people have made, after the agony of loss, we cannot have people now rewarded with the dole and the foodbanks.” 

 Liam Byrne joined Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward and Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader Brigid Jones at a press conference in Birmingham ahead of the Chancellor’s announcement to outline the package developed by Birmingham officials assessed as needed to protect the city.

                                                               

Key asks made by Birmingham City Council include, among other things:

  • A city Jobs taskforce will bring forward a collaborative partnership connecting available provision into a single offer of support. 
  • A business support package to be delivered via local authorities, will offer grant funding of £10k- £50k of support, which will enable businesses within key sectors to survive, recover, retain existing jobs and ultimately create new jobs.
  • To compliment this support, it is proposed to establish a regionally-led equity fund to support those businesses seeking funding above the grant threshold and up to £200k.

 

Liam Byrne, Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, said: 

 “Nobody now wants to see the Covid pandemic trigger a pandemic of poverty, and so if the PM is serious about doing whatever it takes to get through this crisis then we ask him to listen and reflect and learn from the proposals that we are tabling today. 

 “We think that the deal that we need here has to reflect the unique deprivation that we have here in our city.   

 “We need a furlough scheme that genuinely pays out 80 percent of wages; we need a package of help for small businesses to pay the rent and keep the lights on; and crucially we need a package to help the self employed who have been the backbone of enterprise in this city and this region since the industrial revolution.”

 

Birmingham City Council Leader, Cllr Ian Ward added: 

“When the furlough scheme comes to an end at the end of this month, the new support scheme that the government have in place, is not going to be sufficient to keep people in employment across the city of Birmingham. 

“We already know that two fifths of businesses have made redundancies, and another one third of businesses plan to make further redundancies in the future. So we need, in this city, further support behind businesses and jobs, in order to keep people in work.”

 

Deputy Leader of Bimingham City Council, Cllr Brigid Jones said: 

“We’ve been out talking to businesses around the city, and although businesses are open for business again, there’s nothing happening in them. I’ve been to nail bars where they’ve had one customer all day, because no one is going out. I’ve been to dry cleaning places where they are open two days a week, because no one has anything to wash. I’ve been to bars where they have lost 75% of their trade.  

“There’s businesses across our city, that are being impacted by COVID, that are getting no business support, that are having to lay off staff.

“We’ve got to be putting in the money if we’re going to save jobs and livelihoods in our city, and save people from plunging into poverty over Christmas.”