Mr Miliband, who is Labour MP for Doncaster North, told a major business event that meaningful devolution of powers was also required to help Britain’s economy level up as the country emerges from the pandemic.
Mr Miliband and Sarah Howard, the Chair of the British Chambers of Commerce, were the keynote speakers at the online South Yorkshire Chambers’ Patrons Event, which discussed the major issues facing Britain’s economy.
Mr Miliband said: “It’s been the worst of times but we have seen the best of ourselves. The vast majority of businesses have stepped up because they care about their community and their people.”
He added: “It is a pivotal moment in this country’s history. I want to pay tribute to the work businesses have done during this pandemic.”
He said businesses had stepped up to supply PPE and ventilators as part of this “incredible effort”.
He added: “We have got to make sure economic support goes hand in hand with public health measures.”
Mr Miliband said that, in the past, when Britain had faced crises it had managed to build back better.
“Business is at the heart of that.,,business is the lynchpin.”
He said the climate challenges could also lead to opportunities and create the jobs of the future. Mr Miliband also believed that investment in devolution in the North was absolutely crucial.
“We have got to level up in terms of resources,’’ he added. “The public and private sector have got to work together. Devolution has got to be made real and not just piecemeal. We continue to face big issues of working poverty in this country.”
Dan Fell, the chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Businesses want to feel valued, supported and listened to.
“By bringing some of South Yorkshire’s leading business together with nationally significant influencers and decision makers we were able to do that while also developing ideas for how we might further improve the business environment in our region.”
Ms Howard said she had been impressed with the work of South Yorkshire’s “dynamic purpose led chambers”.
“They are clearly investing in South Yorkshire’s future,’’ she said.
The event was hosted by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post's deputy business editor.
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