Facing the Coronavirus challenge in Sheffield City Region
By Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region
We find ourselves in unsettling and difficult times.
Life as we know it is on hold – indefinitely. People are scared, and understandably so. The challenge before us, in terms of the threat to public health and the impact on our economy, is greater than anything we’ve faced in generations.
We will meet that challenge. But doing so means coming together as we have never done before, while making substantial changes to how we lead our lives. This is not a drill. It is absolutely vital that everyone follows the latest guidance from the NHS and Government: stay at home unless it is absolutely essential, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, and stay at least 2 metres away from others.
As Sheffield City Region Mayor and as the MP for Barnsley Central, I’m working around the clock to co-ordinate the response to Coronavirus in South Yorkshire. I’m working closely with the other Metro Mayors to pull together support and work with the national Government; and within the Sheffield City Region I’m working with the Chambers of Commerce, councils, business groups and other key institutions, so that together we can lead a collective economic response to both this immediate crisis and what will come afterwards.
We’ve also taken immediate action to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on our economy. Our Growth Hub advisors are helping businesses and the self-employed access the latest support, and have launched a new designated web page which consolidates all the latest information. As a Mayoral Combined Authority, we’ve also deferred loans to three major firms in South Yorkshire; taking practical steps to ensure cash flow, protect jobs and provide certainty in these very tough times.
Although we’re working tirelessly on a regional level to support our economy, Coronavirus is already having a profound impact. While I welcome the measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to support our businesses, they must only be the start of radical and unprecedented national action needed to keep our economy afloat, in a way which shares the burden fairly. Businesses tell me they are already facing a cash flow crisis. The immediate task must be getting support to the frontline as quickly as possible, and saving companies from having to take actions like layoffs and bankruptcies which cause longer-term disruption to the economy. Hard-working staff and business owners cannot afford delay.
This will be an extraordinarily challenging time for our people, our communities and our public services. I have every confidence that our brilliant, hard-working NHS staff will rise to the challenge, but we all need to do what we can to support them. That means supporting our elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours; and following the official guidelines as they are updated.
I know our communities and businesses here in South Yorkshire and across the North will look out for each other – as they always have. Together, we will come through this.