Industry body Mersey Maritime is taking a lead role in a national taskforce that will ensure vital support for companies keeping Britain supplied during the coronavirus crisis.
Maritime includes business sectors such as shipping, logistics and transportation and the smooth running of businesses in these sectors is critical to the function of the supply of food and medical supplies across the UK.
At a virtual meeting of the Maritime UK National Council on March 19, many in the maritime sector expressed an urgent need to ensure businesses are receiving lifeline support to provide cashflow and keep staff employed.
The Government has announced a range of targeted business support to companies of all sizes in the form of grants and loans.
However, many maritime businesses have expressed serious concerns about their ability to continue operating in the coming weeks.
The new Maritime Business Continuity Taskforce, which will hold its first virtual meeting today (March 26) will see the maritime industry come together with senior Government officials to identify, discuss and to action initiatives to support business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The taskforce will be the incisive voice of the industry to government with focus on the key and immediate issues that need support.
The first meeting is expected initially to focus on access to liquidity for the entire maritime ecosystem.
It will then look at what support will be needed to rebuild after the initial economic shock.
Mersey Maritime represents the maritime industry across the Liverpool City Region, which is worth more than £4bn a year and employs around 50,000 people.
Among its hundreds of members is Port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports which is working 24/7 to keep food and medical supplies flowing into the UK.
Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “With much of the country on lockdown our supply chain is facing its biggest challenge since the Second World War. Our maritime and logistics businesses will play the critical role in the coming weeks and months.
“I have confidence in their resourcefulness and resilience, but we also have to recognise that the maritime sector isn’t immune to the huge impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Firms are reporting huge pressures on cashflows. There is also the concern about maintaining staffing levels due to key people having to self-isolate as well as some confusion over key worker status by the authorities.
“So the importance of this taskforce cannot be overstated.
“It brings together all the key players in the maritime sector and establishes a line of communication right to the heart of government.”
He added: “We have already seen this week how Peel Ports, which operates in multiple locations across the UK, including Liverpool, is working around the clock to make sure food and medical supplies are getting into the country and being distributed as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
“Let’s not forget our job as the maritime industry in this island nation is to keep us all fed, supplied and fuelled.
“We will get through this crisis and we will come through it all the stronger if we work together as an industry and with government to ensure business continuity.”