Sixty-six days after MG Rover's collapse, the MG Rover Task Force on Tuesday told prime minister Tony Blair that the West Midlands is fighting back from the biggest company closure in years.

Updating the PM and key government ministers on the progress that has been made by the task force since MG Rover closed on April 15th, they revealed that nearly 1,250 former MG Rover workers have found new jobs, 1,092 former workers have started training out of 2,200 booked onto courses and 3,000 'at risk' jobs have been temporarily safeguarded in companies supplying MG Rover.

The task force is led by Advantage West Midlands and includes Jobcentre Plus, the Learning and Skills Council, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Business Link, Birmingham City Council and Worcestershire County Council.
Chairman Nick Paul said: "The West Midlands region had to come to terms with the massive fall out from MG Rover's closure with 6,000 jobs lost overnight.

"But the West Midlands is fighting back. Former MG Rover workers have refused to lie down and the resilience they have shown, together with the skills they have to offer, mean that nearly a quarter of them are now back in work. And thousands more have either started training or will do so in the next few weeks.

"Companies who supplied MG Rover are stretched to the limit. MG Rover's collapse has left them with unpaid bills, major cashflow problems, and staff whose jobs were reliant on MG Rover.

"But they refuse to buckle. Many are working round the clock to keep staff on, find new markets and build for the future with the support of the team at Birmingham Chamber and Business Link who have given £3 million in emergency grants to 156 companies to safeguard - at least in the short term - nearly 3,000 jobs.

"Other achievements include agreeing with Revenue and Customs to allow companies to defer VAT payments on the debts they are owed by MG Rover. This has given 57 companies struggling with cashflow problems much needed breathing space with VAT deferments now totaling £7.8 million."