An industry collaboration representing more than 500 North East businesses has announced that its work to date has brought in more than £2bn for the UK economy.
As the Government prepared to release its Autumn Statement last week, the North East Process Industry cluster, NEPIC – which represents chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, energy and renewables businesses in the region – addressed a group of some 20 senior industrialists and ten North East MPs at Westminster.
NEPIC chief executive Dr. Stan Higgins spoke of how 83 significant investments and support for around 4000 jobs had contributed toward reaching the milestone £2bn figure.
NEPIC, which has been supported by UK public sector since 2005, only announced breaking through the £1bn GVA barrier some 36 months ago, in January 2011.
Its recent success has stemmed partly from the clusters’ collaborative programmes, like its Business Acceleration for SMEs initiative, which commenced last year and has already helped create some 350 jobs within the industry’s supply chain.
So far, NEPIC has received industry in-kind contributions of £18m, together with £6m of support from various public sector programmes.
Higgins said: “In generating more than £2bn GVA from £6n of public monies, that’s a return of 332%.
“Has there ever been a better yield on investment for the tax payer?”
Following the announcement, attending industrialists discussed issues of concern regarding future competitiveness, including energy supply.
Government policy also came under the microscope, as did the ongoing fragmentation of the UK process industry.
NEPIC chairman Paul Booth, of Sabic, said: “As usual we were able to share some good news with our local parliamentarians, as well as raising a number of areas where we our industry really needs their help.
“The new LEP structure is beginning to work - as well as the formation of the chemistry using industry’s Growth Council within BIS.
“However, policy changes seem at times to be constant and some companies need help with these matters today.”
MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, who helped to chair the meeting, said: “Myself and my fellow MPs are keen to understand the issues that are of concern to our local biggest industry sector. At times, national policies don’t help at local level and we need to understand industrial issues more deeply if we are to properly represent our constituent’s interests.
“How energy policies and changes in regulation impact on these high energy using and capital intensive industries really needs to be understood better by Ministers, politicians and civil servants alike. We need more of these industries to be located in the UK and sometimes the UK parliamentary system works against longer term investment plans in these capital intensive sectors.
“I am pleased that government has recognised the need for greater understanding of the industry and recently launched chemical industry growth partnership. Michael Fallon MP, the Minister in both BIS and DECC, will jointly chair this partnership.”