COVID-19: JOINT STATEMENT TO THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER Rt Hon RISHI SUNAK
14 October 2020
We write on behalf of Birmingham’s business community, including the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, the Institute of Directors West Midlands, the Federation of Small Businesses, MPs, Lords, Trade Unions and Business Improvement Districts following the announcement yesterday that the City was to be subject to further enhanced restrictions.
Birmingham now falls into the “High Level” category of restrictions (Tier 2) which amongst other things will prevent the mixing of households in social settings. This alone will have a devastating impact on an already fragile hospitality sector.
We acknowledge and appreciate that Government is making incredibly difficult decisions in unprecedented times. But these are also difficult and unprecedented times for our employees, constituents and members, many of whom have had to live with the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought over the spring and summer months which now seems likely to extend for the duration of the winter.
Prior to Covid-19 Birmingham was booming with an economy second only to London in size at £31.9bn. Our tourism and hospitality sectors were worth £13bn employing close to 76,000 people.
The Council and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce wrote to you last week setting out the steps that the Government needed to take to help limit the impact of coronavirus on the City. These included:-
- Taking an evidence-informed approach to the implementation of restrictions, so if a threshold is met (such as the rate of infection per 100,000) work is undertaken to fully understand the sources of infection in a geographic area to enable the tailoring of restrictions accordingly. If this approach had been adopted last week there would not have been a restriction on household mixing in our hospitality sector, as the evidence suggests that there is a very small rate of infection emanating from bars and restaurants in the City. Such a move could save businesses and jobs. This opportunity was missed yesterday, and we hope Government will listen when it reviews the restrictions again, which we understand will be 14 days from now;
- Provide a clear criteria that would trigger an ‘exit’ from a category of restriction, including timescales. From a Birmingham perspective we need to know what needs to be done to exit the ‘high’ level category. We need to give our communities something to aim for and state it clearly. Our ambition is to leave the ‘High’ category as soon as possible and certainly before Christmas;
- Provide a sufficient package of support to businesses to sustain them through the winter. Without such support many businesses will simply not survive to see 2021.
We want to work constructively with you to find solutions that protect people’s businesses, their jobs, their livelihoods and the communities in which they live from a significant spike in unemployment that could follow if action is not taken. We can limit the damage but only if we act decisively, and do so now.
The Birmingham that we know today owes much to the innovators and entrepreneurs of the 18th Century, such as Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who helped to create jobs and sustain huge industries – firmly establishing the city on the global stage.
We can assure you, that spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well today and collectively we will do all that we can to keep the local economy going, but we urgently need your help.
We will be providing you with more detail around specific requests of Government in the next week following consultation with stakeholders.
13 October 2020
Signed by the below:
Andrew Mitchell MP
Annmarie Kilcline, Unite the Union
David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
The Right Reverend David Urquhart, Lord Bishop of Birmingham
Federation of Small Businesses
Gary Sambrook MP
Baroness Gisela Stuart of Edgbaston
Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader, Birmingham City Council
Jack Dromey MP
Jackie Hendley, Institute of Directors West Midlands
James Wong, Chair of Southside BID
Lord Jeff Rooker
Jess Philips MP
Joe Morgan, GMB
Joel Blake, President, Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce
Khalid Mahmood MP
Liam Byrne MP
Luke Crane, JQDT Executive Director
Nicola Fleet-Milne, Chair of Colmore BID
Paul Faulkner, CEO, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Phil Arkinstall, President of the Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce
Baron Philip Hunt of Kings Heath
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Shabana Mahmood MP
The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce