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"We will not let you down" - Solihull Council pledge over credit crunch

Council chiefs and community and business leaders in Solihull have held an "economic summit" to discuss ways of helping the borough and its people survive the global financial crisis

Council chiefs and community and business leaders in Solihull have held an "economic summit" to discuss ways of helping the borough and its people survive the global financial crisis.

It was called to identify and tackle head-on emerging issues such as an increase in unemployment and families getting into financial trouble and the effect of the credit crunch on businesses and charities.

Organisations joining the council at the summit included Solihull Care Trust, Job Centre Plus, Solihull Community Housing, Age Concern, Citizen's Advice, Advantage West Midlands, the Federation of Small Businesses, SUSTAiN and Birmingham & Solihull Chamber of Commerce.

Among the issues raised were the need for a family poverty strategy as a result of parents becoming unemployed and unable to pay everyday bills, the potential risk of greater youth offending and increased demand for free school meals and uniforms.

Increased pressure on health services and advice agencies, including debt counselling services, were also envisaged, and concern was expressed about the plight of elderly people struggling to pay for fuel and food.

Suggested action to be taken included making sure front-line staff in all agencies are capable of directing people in trouble to organisations that can help with advice and support, and supporting businesses by ensuring bills are paid promptly. It was also suggested leisure services should be promoted as a way for people to deal with stress.

Councillor Ian Hillas, council cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: "It is vital that during these difficult times, all partners work closely to share the issues they are facing and create shared solutions.

"The people and businesses in our borough need our support, and we will not let them down. We are going to continue to meet regularly and bring forward creative ways of ensuring our front-line services are there and working well for everyone. We also need to remember that there will be an upward turn in the economy at some point and we need to prepare ourselves for when that happens."

Council leader Ken Meeson said: "More than ever we need to work together in these challenging times. No-one has a monopoly on good ideas and partnership really is the key to success, and even economic survival."

The latest unemployment figures for Solihull show that 2,989 people were unemployed and claiming benefit. Unemployment in north Solihull is much higher than in the south of the borough, with the jobless rate in Smith's Wood and Chelmsley Wood 8 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively.

 

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