MPs to hear how the downturn has affected the people of the West Midlands

MPs on the West Midlands Select Committee will hear evidence from unions, citizens' groups and business leaders in West Bromwich on Thursday 8 October 2009 - when the Committee holds its first hearing in its latest inquiry into the effects of the economic downturn on the people of the West Midlands. The event, which starts at 3pm in the Monroe Room, Bethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich, B70 7JW, is open to the press and the public.

The West Midlands Regional Grand Committee, where all of the regions MPs can debate issues affecting the West Midlands and put questions to the Regional Minister Ian Austin MP, also sits on the same day in Sandwell College, B68 8NA, at 6.30pm. The debate will be on the economy: building the West Midlands' future.

The chair of the West Midlands Select Committee Richard Burden MP said:

"Our first Inquiry into the effects of the recession on our region focussed on the impact on businesses. We took a wide range of evidence and I hope the recommendations contained in our report help inform the policy options being developed by government at both national and regional levels.

"Since we published our first report there have been some encouraging signs that the West Midlands is beginning to turn the corner. However, challenges remain and we do not want to lose sight of the human consequences of the economic downturn here in the West Midlands. That's why we're now looking into the best ways to help people deal with redundancy, get support with housing issues, get back into work and cope with debt. We want to find out what different agencies are doing well - and what they are not - so that examples of best practice can be spread more widely.

"On Thursday we will be hearing from some key regional stakeholders - from business, from the Trade Union movement, from local government and from the voluntary sector. Their evidence will be exceptionally valuable to us in taking our Inquiry forward."

Witnesses

At 3pm:
Citizens Advice Bureau, National Housing Federation and Unison

At 4pm:
Business Voice WM, West Midlands Leaders' Board and Dudley MBC

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Regional Select Committees and Grand Committees have been created by Parliament to provide greater democratic scrutiny at a regional level. Billions of pounds of taxpayers money is currently spent by unelected regional bodies, such as Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Both Regional Select and Grand Committees will help to hold these bodies to account.

Unlike Select Committees the West Midlands Regional Grand Committee will not take evidence from external witnesses or produce a final report - but instead give MPs a forum to debate the "state of the region". Every MP representing a constituency in the region is entitled to attend and participate in the Regional Grand Committee meetings.

The West Midlands Select Committee Members are: Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield), Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West), Mr David Kidney (Stafford), Mr James Plaskitt (Warwick & Leamington) and Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North). All of the MPs on the Committee live in the West Midlands and represent local constituencies.