A new Rover-style taskforce is to be created to help West Midlands business survive the shock of the credit crunch.
The partnership of official agencies, politicians, business leaders and trade unionists is modelled on the Rover Taskforce, which helped employees and businesses hit by the closure of the Longbridge car plant in 2005.
Similar bodies are expected to be rolled out across England, after Alistair Darling, and Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, attended a presentation on the success of the Rover Taskforce in Westminster.
The launch of the West Midlands body will be announced at the annual general meeting of Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, which is taking place in Birmingham today.
Members include directors and chief executives of Government agencies such as the Learning and Skills Council, Job Centre Plus, Business Link, the Manufacturing Advisory Service and Advantage West Midlands, represented by chairman Nick Paul and chief executive Richard Hutchins.
A range of business organisations include the CBI, Institute of Directors and Engineering Employers Federation will be invited to send representatives. The aim is to ensure the many Government agencies in the region co-ordinate their efforts to stop firms going out of business, save jobs and provide training to help workers who do end up on the dole to find new employment. Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North), a Government whip and Minister for the West Midlands, will chair the new body.
He said: “We know these are extraordinary times, and Government focus, from Number 10 down, has to be on doing all in our power to safeguard the stability of our economy.”
One of the first jobs of the new West Midlands Taskforce will be to take part in a special Regional Economic Summit on December 4, involving businesses, banks and finance institutions.
Meanwhile, Conservative chair Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden) met business leaders from Coventry and Warwickshire to discuss the challenges they face and what Government can do to help. She was told that businesses were suffering cash flow difficulties as clients delayed payment.