The Chancellor of the Exchequer, is set to visit the North East on Friday to launch the Government’s “long term economic plan” for the region. Here he outlines his plans:
“I’m here today with a simple message: this Government has a clear Long Term Economic Plan for the North East. It is a plan to build a Northern Powerhouse, by investing in transport links and skills, backing manufacturing and exports, and supporting the rural economy of this beautiful part of our country.
The starting point of our plan is that the economic growth rate here can match the forecast growth of the rest of the UK. By doing this we could increase the North East’s economy by £6bn in real terms by 2030. Or better put, we could increase average incomes by £2,000 for each and every person.
We also want to see more jobs here. On the latest data, the North East has been creating jobs at the fastest rate in the country – over five times the national average. And earnings are up too, last year’s increase in wages here was four times the national average. I want that to continue over the next five years, so the plan I’m setting out today aims to create another 50,000 jobs by the end of the next Parliament too.
To create growth and jobs though, the North East needs modern infrastructure. Anyone who lives in Northumberland will tell you that one of the biggest problems in this part of the country is simply getting around.
That’s why transport is central to our Long Term Economic Plan here. Across the north of the country we’re spending more on our roads than since the 1970s – and more on our railways than since the Victorians. From the dualling of the A1 north of Newcastle, to the widening of the Newcastle and Gateshead Western Bypass to reduce congestion in the city, to investing in new trains serving more stations – I am making a commitment to invest over £4.5bn investment in the North East’s transport links.
Today we’re looking at how we bring the benefits of High Speed rail to the whole of the North East, exploring the infrastructure improvements to bring trains running at 140mph to the line between Newcastle and York, which with new high speed links across the Pennines as well could cut journey times between Newcastle and Manchester by up to a quarter.
And we are inviting local authorities to present a business case for future investment in the Tyne & Wear Metro, which could include new, high-spec trains and potential extensions to the network.
But our plan is not just about roads and rail, we’re looking at air travel too. Airports like Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley, are vital drivers of the local economy. But the devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Scotland poses new challenges. I will take steps to make sure local airports don’t suffer when this happens, but instead thrive.
As well as sorting the transport connections, I also want to build on the areas of strength in the North East economy. Today I’m backing ideas for developing science and manufacturing and chemicals, and boosting exports across this part of the country, including from the Centre for Process Innovation in Redcar, and the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
But to nurture the next generation of bright ideas on science and innovation, investment in training and education is key. So today I’m also approving a new University Technical College in Newcastle, specialising in health science, with places for 600 students.
A plan for this the economy of this beautiful part of the UK wouldn’t be complete without an ambition to boost the rural economy and boost tourism. As we continue to put the infrastructure in place to facilitate economic growth, today I’m asking local areas to come forward and tell me what else they need to attract businesses in the most rural parts of Northumberland. I’m asking for wide-ranging, detailed proposals – from a new enterprise zone to redeveloping the Berwick jetty.
I’m setting an ambition to increase the number of visitors to the North East by a third over the next year – an extra 150,000 visitors next year and each year after that. Today I’m contributing to a whole host of local projects, from Hadrian’s Wall to Lindisfarne Castle.
Supporting industry and scientific innovation. Creating Jobs. Rebalancing our economy. These are the objectives of the Long Term Economic Plan for the North East. It is a means of delivering more economic opportunities and a brighter future for the readers of the Journal, and with your support, together we will achieve it.”