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City leaders unite as ‘detrimental’ restrictions come into force

14 October 2020

A statement to the chancellor from Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Birmingham City Council and other key stakeholders warns Covid-19 restrictions will have a detrimental impact on Birmingham.

Chamber chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) has joined Council leader Cllr Ian Ward and deputy leader Cllr Brigid Jones in writing to Rishi Sunak in response to the new three-tier system imposed by the Government.

The statement has been backed by 30 other signatories, including the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce president Jason Wouhra, Sutton Coldfield Chamber president Phil Arkinstall and Commonwealth Chamber president Joel Blake.

It warns that the new system, under which Birmingham has been placed in ‘Tier 2’, will have a negative impact on the city-region’s economic recovery unless urgent support is provided for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.

From Wednesday, people from different Birmingham households can no longer mix indoors in hospitality venues.

In the joint statement, the city's leaders pledged to work constructively with the Government to protect jobs but said many businesses in Birmingham's £13bn hospitality sector will not survive the winter without financial support.

The statement calls for:

  • an evidence-informed approach to the implementation of restrictions
  • a clear criteria that would trigger an ‘exit’ from a category of restriction, including timescales
  • a sufficient package of support to businesses 

Read the full statement here.

Challenging time

Cllr Ward said: “It has been an incredibly challenging time for the city over the last several months and without further support from Government it could well be a bleak winter.

“This joint statement, signed by representatives from across the business community, MPs from all political parties, Trade Unions and the Council shows the level of determination to protect peoples’ livelihoods.”

Cllr Jones said: “This is a more challenging time than anyone could have imagined. We are an incredibly vibrant city, and prior to Covid, Birmingham’s economy was one of the strongest in the UK.

“Decisive action is now required, and we want to work jointly with Government to shield our communities from the immediate impacts of an economic downturn and create the platform for an economic recovery.”

Concerns

Paul Faulkner said: “The business community is united in their concerns about the potential impact of these new measures and calls for clarity and action.

“Today we have hospitality businesses operating under seriously reduced capacity and unpredictable demand as customers react at short notice to the developing Covid situation - all while managing too predictable overheads.

“We have many more businesses and employees aside who need to see that clarity and sense of longer term planning and action from Government on how the country will navigate through these challenging winter months.

“So much was invested in supporting businesses through the first wave of this virus through the furlough scheme, Bounce Back and Coronavirus Interruption Loans and more. We cannot let that go to waste and give up on the most impacted businesses at the time they need the support the most.”

Decline

Ann Tonks, managing director of Birmingham city centre restaurant Opus, says hospitality businesses like hers could lose at least 60 per cent of bookings as a result of the ‘Tier 2’ restrictions.

She said: “As a result of being in Tier 2, Opus estimates we will witness a decline of at least 60% of our bookings; single households do not account for that much of our business. This will be true of many of our colleagues across the city. The overall affect on sales means our turnover will be at best 15 per cent of normal, pre-Covid levels,

“Staff working hours will have to be radically reduced. With no further financial help from the Treasury, there will be huge redundancies and restaurant closures. Even two weeks as a Tier 2 city is financially unviable.”

For advice and guidance on the latest measures and support currently available, businesses can:

  • Contact their GBCC relationship manager
  • Call the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce business support helpline on 0121 274 3280 for advice and guidance in English, Bengali, Urdu and Punjabi.
  • Read the Chamber’s coronavirus support grid for businesses
  • Contact KBM@Birmingham-Chamber.com

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