Liam Byrne chairs first Council of Regional Ministers
16 October 2008
Helping savers, small businesses and homeowners in the regions through the worldwide economic problems was top of the agenda at the first meeting of the Council of Regional Ministers today.
The Council brought together the nine ministers for the English regions as well as ministers for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to look at what help the regions need and what Whitehall can do to provide it.
Liam Byrne, Minister for the Cabinet Office and chair of the council, said:
“As the economic challenge moves from the City of London to the streets of Britain, our response must be nationwide. We're determined to make sure that regions are centre-stage in planning our national response. The Government has already taken steps to support families across the country during these tougher times, now we're looking at how to deal with more local issues. Crucially we want to make sure the views of families and small businesses are heard at the top tables.
“Part of the job of regional ministers is to be a voice for their areas in Whitehall and that's what the Council of Regional Ministers is all about – making sure central government knows what the public, the business community and third sector organisations across the country need to get by.
“The council will also ensure that the regions' strategies to cope with the challenges of tougher times are successful. This may involve bringing all parties together quickly at a local level to respond to local economic shocks and will help us remove barriers to delivering critical local services and job creation ” such as fast-tracking infrastructure projects.”
The Council of Regional Ministers is co-chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper. It will meet every two weeks and will feed its findings up to the National Economic Council, which was set up by the Prime Minister earlier this month.
Notes to editors
The CRM was announced by the Prime Minister on 3 October and met for the first time today, 16 October.
The Council of Regional Ministers (CRM) will meet regularly to:
- discuss common issues and take action where appropriate including making recommendations to the Regional Economic Council and National Economic Council;
- act as a conduit to the NEC and REC for information gathered by Regional Ministers as part of their work in their region; and
- facilitate the dissemination of key messages by Regional Ministers, including from the National and Regional Economic Councils.
The CRM will be co-chaired by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, although the first meeting was co-chaired by Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Angela Eagle. The deputy chairs will be the Minister of State, Communities and Local Government and the Minister of State, Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. All Regional Ministers will be members, as will Ministers representing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Council's remit will be to:
- help ensure that the work of key regional public sector bodies is properly coordinated to address short term challenges and opportunities;
- disseminate key messages for Regional Ministers to use in their discussions in the regions. This will include the narrative agreed by the NEC; and
- act as a conduit to the NEC and REC, for information generated by Regional Ministers' work in their region. Regional Ministers will of course continue to raise specific issues bilaterally with Departments in the normal way.
Pictures of the meeeting will be available from the Cabinet Office Press Office after the event. Cabinet Office Press Office
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