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Mayor warns of 17,000 job losses if support is not there; worst-case scenario would be a PS1bn hit to local economy.

Byline: IAN MCNEAL and ALEX METCALFE @TeessideLive

UP to 17,000 local jobs could be lost if action is not taken to support businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Ben Houchen has warned.

Economic analysis carried out by Tees Valley Combined Authority shows a reasonable worst-case scenario could see the local economy lose almost PS1bn 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.

Mr Houchen has now 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 during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Houchen said: "The Government has adapted and evolved its medical response to coronavirus, and 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."

Mr Houchen said the UK was "in the midst of a global crisis not seen before".

He added: "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."

We need to rule book on political motives whatever " Mr Houchen has already written to Teesside businesses pointing to a government grant scheme to help survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Ben A PS3,000 grant is available for businesses that don't pay rates, with the mayor saying councils will administer the sum in the next two weeks.

He also pointed to the Government's coronavirus "business interruption loan scheme" to help firms with "cash flow pressures".

But Stockton Council's Labour leader Cllr Bob Cook has called for clarity and more details of the new support fund.

Measures were due to be announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday - including efforts to help the aviation industry.

Elections to become Tees Valley mayor have been postponed until 2021 but Labour's Jessie Joe Jacobs remains the Labour candidate for the post. Ms Jacobs said it was clear that coronavirus was "going to hurt many people" and people were rightly worried.

throw out the ideology and and take means are necessary.

She added: "The aviation industry, on which a significant part of our economic plan is built, is teetering on the brink.

Houchen "The service industry and foundational economy that Teesside is also reliant on, such as care, leisure and retail, are all facing significant risks and many businesses are fearing closure.

"We need to pull together during this time - particularly to ensure the survival of our local businesses and the protection of those most vulnerable."

The Labour candidate said she was working with business leaders and in communities in the past week with her own action plan.

On Monday the Government was urging everyone to avoid gatherings and crowded places - such as pubs, clubs and theatres.

Everyone should work from home if they can and all "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in care homes should stop.

If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.

Those with the most serious health conditions must be "largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks" from this weekend.

Cllr Cook has offered details of his authority's efforts to manage the impacts of coronavirus with a "scaling back" on non-essential services in the coming days.

He added: "Meanwhile, we are pressing the Government for details of the newly announced national hardship fund and support for small businesses so that we can provide it as quickly as possible.

"By following this carefully planned approach we are doing everything we possibly can to minimise risk to our residents, staff and businesses - particularly those most vulnerable - and that will always be our top priority."

to throw out the rule and political and take measures to and economic written Teesside pointing government to help remains the Labour the post. Ms Jacobs clear that was "many people rightly "The which economic built, is the brink. We need to throw out the rule book on ideology and political motives and take whatever means are necessary. Ben Houchen
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Author:IAN MCNEAL and ALEX METCALFE @TeessideLive
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2020
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