Business leaders in the Midlands have called on the Government and banks to offer urgent financial relief to suppliers hit by the MG Rover crisis.

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCI) is seeking support from the banks to offer practical assistance to suppliers who are owed thousands of pounds following the collapse of the Longbridge car maker.

Through its specialist automotive unit Accelerate, the chamber has urged the Government to defer VAT, PAYE and National Insurance payments to help deflect widespread redundancies.

The move follows a meeting at the chamber's offices in Edgbaston where nearly 100 suppliers were briefed about how they qualify for a slice of the £40 million aid package announced by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

They were told that any company which has 15 per cent or more of its business with MG Rover would qualify for assistance.

BCI chief executive Sue Battle said: "Most of the suppliers were impressed with the speed with which the Rover Taskforce had been re-formed and the actions taken by the Accelerate team.

"We are urging the Government in particular to show the same consideration for suppliers and their employees as they have to the workforce at Longbridge.

"Some companies are owed large amounts of money by MG Rover or face situations where stock which has not been paid for is being held at Longbridge.

"Many companies who are second and third-tier suppliers will be feeling the pressure and their prospects of being paid are even more complicated."

Meanwhile Black Country suppliers to MG Rover are being offered expert advice on how they can handle the crisis caused by the car giant's collapse.

Black Country Chamber & Business Link is holding free seminars today and tomorrow to advise firms in the supply chain how to cope with financial, legal and contractual issues thrown up by the crisis.

The seminars, to be held at the National Metalforming Centre in West Bromwich today at 4.30pm and at the Village Hotel at M6 Junction 10 tomorrow at 8am, will feature expert speakers from law firm George Green and accountants and business advisers Horwath Clark Whitehill and Mazars.