The North East Chamber of Commerce has outlined key priorities for the Chancellor to consider when he makes his Autumn Statement in December.
In its submission to the Government, the organisation detailed four points it believes could help rebalance the economy, create more jobs and turn the North East into a greater economic force that will deliver more for UK PLC.
The Chamber wants a swift devolution of powers in consultation with business, with the creation of more flexible tax and spend decisions that are equitable and targeted according to the local or regional economy, rather than that of London.
NECC is also seeking increased investment in infrastructure, helping unlock economic activity by improving access to markets and providing the spatial capacity for growth.
Work also needed to be done to create up-skilled and ‘work ready’ individuals who could fill potential skills gap in the economy, while barriers to growth and job creation needed to be removed.
Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “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.
“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.”
NECC is also urging the Government to undo changes and amend the differential funding for apprenticeships between the 16-18, 19-24 and adult age brackets, making apprenticeships more attractive to employers and helping address youth unemployment.
Mr Ramsbotham said: “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. 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.”