Metro Mayor co-ordinates response to ‘economic emergency’

City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram spoke to business leaders, trade unions, business support bodies and local authorities and also called for ‘payroll grants’. Tony McDonough reports

Steve Rotheram
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has spoken with business leaders, trade unions, business support bodies and local authorities in order to offer a co-ordinated response to the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Rotheram also called on the Government to introduce “payroll grants’ so that businesses can carry on paying their staff and he urged business owners across the city region to “speak to their bank, their landlord, their main customers and their supply chain” as soon as possible.

When he unveiled his £330bn support package for businesses this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said coronavirus had caused an ‘economic emergency’. Business and political leaders have urged Mr Sunak to go further and offer more clarity.

Following a conference call with representatives and leaders from across Merseyside, Mr Rotheram said it was agreed it was vital that co-ordinated city region wide action be put in place so that they can be clear with Government exactly what the needs of local businesses and third sector organisations are. 

On Monday, Downtown in Business chief executive Frank McKenna called for a ‘business COBRA’ to address the woes of the Mersey business community during the crisis and on Wednesday Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Cherpeau called for far greater clarity from Government on business support.

Frank McKenna, chief executive of Downtown in Business. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Mr Rotheram said: “The passion to protect our jobs and our businesses was clear. There was a clear message that while recent government announcements on financial support packages were welcome, we all need information about how to access funding, and what the criteria are for receiving support.

“There was a very strong feeling that ministers need to provide clarity to them on this immediately. However the support arrives, I encourage companies to speak to their bank, their landlord, their main customers and their supply chain as soon as they can.

“When government funding comes, relationships with these groups will still be crucial. I would urge all businesses to take that action now, as a first step, so they are in a position to access government funding as soon as it becomes available. 

“More broadly, as well as protecting businesses we also need to protect jobs and workers. We have already seen redundancies announced today and despite yesterday’s announcements many ordinary people are still wondering what help will be provided to them. Many households are facing a potential loss of income, so this omission needs to be addressed urgently.”

The Metro Mayor said payroll grants would not only ease the burden on businesses faced with reduced demand – protecting jobs and household incomes now – but would also ensure that money goes directly into people’s pockets, which in turn will help to sustain the economy during the next few months.

He added: “I will continue doing everything I possibly can, working closely with key representatives of our business community, to connect our Liverpool city region businesses to the help they need and to get that help in place now.”

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