Confidence must be restored before economy bounces back: West Midlands Mayor

1 June 2020, 11:39

By Seán Hickey

The public has to see evidence that businesses are taking necessary steps to reopen safely before the UK economy starts to fight back.

Monday marked the first time since March where markets and some high street shops reopened while the public are allowed to meet six people from other households and the shielded population can go outside.

There has been much skepticism over whether or not it is too soon for the UK to reopen but many business leaders and commentators have justified the reopening of the economy, including the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street.

He joined Nick Ferrari to explain by what measures he believes the UK can reopen the economy in the safest fashion as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.

"I am firmly of the view that it is time to steadily open the economy" the West Midlands Mayor stated. Nick asked him for a prediction "for this country's economy over the next three to six months" and Mr Street insisted that a "steady recovery" is the key to preserving the economy. He told Nick that "most of the building sites in the west midlands are back opening" adding that "manufacturing is critical for this region."

Mr Street warned that all the manufacturing and construction in the world isn't worth a thing unless the public trust that it is safe to go out and spend. "We need the consumer demand" he pointed out.

Andy Street was delighted to see economic activity returning to the West Midlands
Andy Street was delighted to see economic activity returning to the West Midlands. Picture: PA

Mr Street was sure to stress the importance of bringing back furloughed workers and commended Rishi Sunak's proposals for the policy. He told Nick that time is of the essence here to ensure the public is confident that it is safe to return to work. Nick wanted to know how worried the Mayor was that many of the UK's workers are frightened to return to work.

"We've got to steadily rebuild confidence" he reiterated. Using the example of how people were confident throughout lockdown to continue going to the supermarket, Mr Street told Nick that the public need to see "normal things happening and they have to see it being done safely" before the economy bounces back fully.

On the topic of schools, Nick asked the Mayor of the West Midlands about the region's method of reopening schools today. "Across the seven boroughs in the West Midlands it is a mix" he said, pointing out that some schools have postponed reopening to next week as they don't feel ready to start back up yet.

Mr Street commended the honesty and hard work of these school leaders. "What I see is a huge amount of pragmatism and practical planning by each school to make sure necessary steps are taken before they reopen" he said, insisting that they should be given time to get their head around operating in a "new normal".

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