The North East Chamber of Commerce has presented the Chancellor with a three-point plan to help the region deliver more to UK Plc.
The trio of key priorities for George Osborne feature in the NECC’s submission ahead of the Autumn Statement on December 5.
The chamber has called for an increased focus on stimulating employment, stimulating investment and backing regional strengths.
The submission, from chief executive, James Ramsbotham, urges the Government to postpone further increases to business rates and reliefs back to pre-2008 levels reinstated.
It also calls for backing for regional strengths in manufacturing and exports by reforming restrictive Air Passenger Duty and current levels of fuel duty. There are also calls for incentives to stimulate employment and investment; changes to employer NI contributions for young people and harmonising the apprenticeship funding pots.
NECC Chief Executive, James Ramsbotham, said: “The Government has repeatedly emphasised its continuing commitment to rebalancing the UK economy and we want the North East to play a key role in achieving this. The Autumn Statement must support the growth of the region’s economy.
“We have been saying for quite some time now that the North East is not a problem that needs to be solved, but an unrealised asset which should be developed further to produce a stronger return for UK plc – by backing the things that we do well in the Autumn Statement and removing barriers to growth, we could be delivering so much more.
“Our submission calls for a suite of measures to build on North East strengths as well as stimulate employment and 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 our own 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.”
NECC, which represents more than 4,000 businesses who in turn employ around 30% of the region’s workforce, has called for greater clarity over how the Business Bank will operate, as well as ensuring it is best placed to fill finance gaps in the region; further measures to increase access to finance, including the improved promotion of existing Government initiatives and recognition of the malign impact of empty property rates on investment, both speculative and in existing stock.