The Chancellor was told that Britain could learn from the West Midlands’ response to the collapse of Rover, as he met business leaders in Whitehall.
Alistair Darling and Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, chaired the first meeting of the Government’s new Regional Economic Council, which was created by Gordon Brown to help Britain get through the recession.
Nick Paul, chairman of Advantage West Midlands, the Government agency responsible for supporting the region’s economy, led a presentation outlining the work of the Rover Taskforce, a partnership of agencies which helped Rover’s suppliers cope with the closure of the Longbridge plant, and provided training and job advice for workers who had been made redundant.
Also present were representatives of the CBI and trade unions, as well as regional ministers including Ian Austin, the Minister for the West Midlands.
The regional economic council was one of a number of bodies set up by Mr Brown in October, as part of a restructuring of the Government in response to the economic crisis.
He also formed a separate council of regional ministers, chaired by Birmingham MP Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), and a local council chaired by Mr Austin (Lab Dudley North).
The session was held in the Department of Business and Enterprise.
Mr Austin said: “Nick Paul gave a presentation on how the rest of the country could learn from what the West Midlands did to reduce the impact of the Rover situation. The Rover Taskforce enabled 95 per cent of former Rover employees to find jobs.
“I also told the Chancellor and Business Secretary about concerns businesses in the region have raised with me about difficulty gaining access to finance.”
He added: “The aim of these meetings is to enable Nick Paul and I and others to raise the issues businesses tell us they are concerned about directly with cabinet ministers and Government departments.”