Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has called on the Government to underwrite the losses of businesses, including sole traders – from local pubs and shops to industry and the chemical sector – for 12 weeks to help them and the public during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Economic analysis undertaken by the Tees Valley Combined Authority over the last 24 hours has sown that a reasonable worst-case scenario for the region shows that the impact of COVID-19 could cost the local economy almost £1bn in 2020 – a retraction of 5.2%. This equates to the possible loss of almost 17,000 jobs, if nothing is done to mitigate losses within businesses large and small.
Mayor Houchen has set out the need to secure jobs and incomes for local people by fully underwriting businesses in the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.
The mayor stressed that businesses failing would mean families losing incomes at a time of great uncertainty, as well as further economic pressure on businesses and jobs in the supply chain.
It would also make the economy more resilient to bounce back if viable businesses were protected and helped with cash liquidity and cashflow in the coming months.
Mayor Houchen said: “The Government has adapted and evolved its medical response to Coronavirus, now needs to significantly ramp-up its action on the needs of businesses large and small to protect jobs.
“This should be for businesses of all sizes and sectors. From fitness instructors, pubs, bars and cafes most at risk in the immediate term, to the industrial businesses like those in the chemicals sectors that will be the backbone of our economic recovery.
“We are in the midst of a global crisis not seen before, and given the unprecedented challenges for individuals, families, business and public services we need to throw out the rule book on ideology and political motives and take whatever measures are necessary to preserve lives and minimise economic damage over the coming weeks.
“My team and I are 100% focussed, but it’s clear the scale of the challenge means we need resources far beyond what is normally available. Businesses now need twelve weeks’ support at least to get them through the expected peak of the crisis, the alternative is just unthinkable.
“On social care and health support I am doing all I can to help support our local councils and NHS Trusts to deliver the services that they must provide to local people to help us through these unprecedented times.”