Power transfer ‘a priority’

BUSINESS leaders have made handing over powers to the region a priority in their submission to Government.

BUSINESS leaders have made handing over powers to the region a priority in their submission to Government.

George Osborne needs to support businesses as they seek to grow, the North East Chamber of Commerce has said.

And as part of that support the Chancellor should back plans to hand regional leaders a say on Government spending “as quickly as possible”.

In a submission to the Treasury ahead of the spending review, the Chamber has said the Government should “prioritise funding towards areas with the potential to unlock economic growth”.

The Government must also quickly deliver on previously announced schemes on the A1 in North Yorkshire and Gateshead and A19 junctions around Tyneside and Teesside, say the Chamber, which also wants to see preparatory work for A1 dualling in Northumberland begin.

President John Mowbray said: “More must be done to help North East businesses deliver sustainable economic growth, increase wealth and more jobs.

“We have been saying for the last two years that the North East is an untapped resource bursting with potential. Our export performance outstrips the rest of the country, unemployment is falling faster than the rest of the UK, our manufacturing is in rude health and our service sector is growing faster than at any time since the recession began.

“What we require are the tools to do a proper job. To fulfil our undoubted potential, improve on what we are good at and utilise our capacity and enviable resources.”

In a detailed spending review submission the Chamber points to the real need for finding changes.

“Since the abolition of regional development agencies, local economic development organisations, principally local enterprise partnerships, have not had access to ‘single pot’ funding.

“Money has instead been provided through a variety of piecemeal sources. While both LEPs and other bodies have achieved some success through use of these, we believe the impact is smaller than could be achieved through a more flexible single fund. This was also recognised by Lord Heseltine in his review of competitiveness.”

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said many businesses also had concerns about the limited impact of Government planning reforms.

He said: “While we welcome planning reforms, the impact has been limited. Local authorities have faced heavy cutbacks and prioritised planning and development to bear some of these cuts, affecting performance and undermining the effect of Government policy. We believe greater regionally-focused funding for housing is needed.

“There must also be better understanding of the different regional impacts of taxation and levies such as empty property rates, air passenger duty and fuel duty as well as business rates reform.”

The North East is an untapped resource bursting with potential

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