The need for investment and growth in the former coalfields of County Durham has been underlined to Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The Coalition must take action “that is seen and felt” and break with decades of deprivation to unlock the area’s potential, Labour’s Easington MP Grahame Morris said.
The MP also highlighted how there are 48 jobs to every 100 adults in his constituency and urged the Lib Dem minister to connect the region with the wider world during a one-to-one meeting last month.
Mr Morris said: “The Government’s promise to rebalance the economy has yet to be realised with ambitious rhetoric failing to translate into meaningful action.
“If we are to rebalance the economy, both in relation to our over-reliance on the financial sector and the revival of the regions, the Government must provide much more targeted support to encourage economic activity through selling goods and services abroad.”
Mr Morris also made the case for investment in education and training.
He said: “The economic recovery has yet to reach beyond London and the South East, but if we are to lead a national recovery we need to unlock and utilise the skills in Britain’s former industrial areas, which represent nearly a third of the population.
“The coalfield communities have some of the lowest ‘job destiny’ figures in the country with just 48 jobs in the Durham coalfields per 100 residents of working age.”
He told the Business Secretary welfare reform had been counterproductive, taking spending power out of the local economy.
He said: “Cutting benefits will never reduce the number of people out of work until there are more jobs available.
“In reality, the only sustainable way to bring down welfare spending is through growth in the local economy, and rebuilding our former coalfield and industrial communities has the potential to slash billions from welfare spending.”
Mr Morris also told how infrastructure spending which sees £24 spent in London for every £1 in the North East is widening a divide in the country.
He said: “The Government’s complacency in this matter can be clearly highlighted by their decision to exclude Scotland and the North East from HS2, which will not reach the region for at least 20 years.
“If the Government believes HS2 will drive future economic growth there can be no excuse for denying some of the most deprived communities in the UK access to the service.
“I welcomed the opportunity to meet the Business Secretary, and was encouraged by his support for developing new employment opportunities in the region.
“However, after four years of Coalition Government we no longer require empty promises but firm action.”