Plea for £2.8bn package to help region’s recovery
MEASURES TO CREATE A STRONGER REGION PUT FORWARD
THE North East is asking the Government for a £2.8bn funding package to ensure the region emerges from the coronavirus with a thriving economy.
The North East Covid-19 Economic Response Group – which is made up of business, political, education and other groups – makes the financial plea in its Recovery and Renewal Deal, which also outlines plans to create more than 50,000 new jobs.
The group has laid out a wide-ranging package of measures that it says will create a stronger region, including major investment in the green economy, spending on digital and transport infrastructure and increased funding for education in the North East.
It has warned that existing Government measures to protect jobs may need to be improved, and has called for the power to spend the huge sums of money envisaged to be devolved to the region.
The ambitious programme comes as evidence shows mounting problems for the North East economy, with 97% of businesses in the region thought to have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and 36,500 more people on unemployment benefits.
Lucy Winskell, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East is an ambitious proposal that is designed to create a fair playing field for everyone.
“Through our Strategic Economic Plan, it was our goal to create 100,000 new and better jobs and we were doing well – with 68,000 more jobs in March 2020.
“But the impact of Covid-19 will reset that, which is why our Recovery and Renewal Deal is so important.”
Sarah Glendinning, regional director for the CBI North East, said: “Now more than ever we need to be imaginative in our thinking, brave in our approach and robust in our delivery in order to recover and thrive. In the Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East, we have suggested the way to a new North East. Now is the time to come together to think bigger, greener, more inclusively and with innovation to reimagine our economy.”
And North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “The pandemic has hit people hard. Young people need jobs. Businesses need investment. Yet we have the potential to be world leaders in offshore energy, advanced manufacturing and sustainable transport.
“Our Recovery and Renewal deal will create 100,000 well-paid jobs. It supports more affordable homes and better health. It’s what our region needs, and I want central government to back our plan and back the North East.”
The plan says it will keep people in jobs and training, as well as supporting businesses to recover from the pandemic and boosting economic sectors set to thrive in the post-coronavirus world.
Measures identified in the document include a series of new projects aimed at boosting town and city centres, achieving zero-carbon emissions targets, using new digital construction and advanced manufacturing techniques and leading the national effort to harness offshore wind.
Achieving the funding needed to put the plan into action will be a huge challenge for the region, but the plan will put pressure on the Government to come good on its ‘levelling up’ agenda, particularly at a time of tension between Westminster and leaders in the North.