Chancellor must empower businesses to drive growth – NECC
The Chancellor must empower businesses to drive forward economic growth when he makes his Autumn Statement announcement in December, according to the NECC.
James Ramsbotham, NECC chief executive, has outlined, in the chamber's submission to the government, key priorities to rebalance the economy, create more jobs and turn the North East into a "greater economic force that will deliver more for UK plc".
"The North East is coming back stronger than ever and it is our businesses that are driving forward our growth. We say it every year, but more must be done to help them deliver more," said Ramsbotham.
"Our submission calls for a suite of measures to build on North East strengths, stimulate further employment and attract investment. The region's continued excellent performance in opening up overseas markets contributes enormously to UK plc, but by playing to strengths in this field and manufacturing and utilising regional capacity for further business development, the North East could be contributing so much more."
According to the NECC's Quarterly Economic Surveys, businesses in the North East are "recruiting more people, seeing rises in sales and orders and investing more in their staff and companies than at any time since the recession began".
"They are performing admirably and driving the regional recovery forward. It is now up to the government to match this effort."
The NECC is also urging the government to undo changes and amend the differential funding for apprenticeships between the 16 to 18, 19 to 24 and adult age brackets.
"Although employment levels in the North East are high by historic standards, unemployment remains a concern given it is significantly higher than the UK average and the highest of all regions," said Ramsbotham.
"Youth unemployment is still a significant concern. About a quarter of 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed in the North East.
"Businesses in the North East consistently cite a skills gap as a barrier to employment. This is notable in STEM industries, but also affects construction, professional services, logistics and tourism.
"It is crucial that the Chancellor understands North East weaknesses as much as its strengths when he is preparing the economic blueprint that will carry us forward to next year's general election."