Proposed recovery and renewal deal for post-COVID North East published

North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group outlines proposals to transform and reimagine the North East economy

The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has published its Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East, which outlines how a thriving post-pandemic economy could potentially be created.

The group is made up of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities with the support of industry, to ensure the North East has strong economic leadership that acts quickly and collaboratively to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

Its proposal reflects on COVID-19 as a catalyst for change and details how the North East is ready and prepared to harness this catalyst to reinvigorate the North East economy.

The document sets out how, with the necessary support from the government, the North East could maximise opportunities to reach a goal of rapidly creating 100,000 good quality and secure jobs.

In the Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East, the Group is asking the government for £2.8bn to directly unlock half of required 100,000 additional jobs quickly. It also wants accelerated confirmation of existing business cases, including Transforming Cities funding; a commitment to joint working in areas where the North East can lead the national recovery, specifically low carbon energy; and flexibility within national programmes to allow for maximum leverage of local and national resources.

It is envisioned that this would keep people in jobs and training, support businesses and sectors to restart and recover, and support the transition of our communities and places as they adapt to living with COVID-19.

In the long-term, the deal sets out how our future economy can be built by maximising the potential of our existing assets and exploring new opportunities and by investing in digital and transport connectivity.

Opportunities identified in the document include a series of new projects to empower our rural and coastal areas and reinvigorate our town and city centres; achieving zero carbon emissions targets; utilising new digital construction and advanced manufacturing techniques; leading the national offshore wind revolution; and delivering the first digitally-connected Freeport for the UK.

The proposals give particular focus to jobs in the key areas of data ageing, low carbon, life sciences and pharma. This will help the transition to a stronger, higher-productivity and higher-wage economy, with people primed to adapt to challenges and new opportunities.

Lucy Winskell, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “The Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East is an ambitious proposal that is designed to create a fair playing field for everyone.

“Through our Strategic Economic Plan, it was our goal to create 100,000 new and better jobs and we were doing well – with 68,000 more jobs in March 2020. But the impact of COVID-19 will reset that, which is why our Recovery and Renewal Deal is so important.

“We have presented a proposal that puts sustainability and decarbonisation at the core. The Recovery and Renewal Deal ensures communities continue to improve and provide a strong offer for people to live, work, study and visit.”

Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director for the CBI North East, said: “Now more than ever we need to be imaginative in our thinking, brave in our approach and robust in our delivery in order to recover and thrive.

“In the Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East, we have suggested the way to a new North East. Now is the time to come together to think bigger, greener, more inclusively and with innovation to reimagine our economy.”

Mayor Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Combined Authority said: “The pandemic has hit people hard. Young people need jobs. Businesses need investment. Yet we have the potential to be world leaders in offshore energy, advanced manufacturing, and sustainable transport.

“Our Recovery and Renewal deal will create 100,000 well paid jobs. It supports more affordable homes and better health. It’s what our region needs, and I want central government to back our plan and back the North East.”

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Chair, North East Combined Authority, said: “It is vital that we have a strong plan in place to help our businesses and communities to recover from this unprecedented crisis.

“The Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East builds on the work we are already doing with government and other partners nationally and regionally to unlock all available support and financial assistance and sets out a bold vision for future prosperity.”

A dedicated North East COVID-19 Response Group web page has been launched for those looking for more information and partners wanting to engage with its work.

North East businesses can also access the North East Growth Hub, where a COVID-19 (coronavirus) toolkit provides the most up to date support and advice, including partner information.

Read the Recovery and Renewal Deal for the North East here.

Universities support North East’s economic recovery: Network-H2

Universities have a vital role to play in helping the North East economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The work being delivered by North East universities is supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, and shaping and supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University are all members of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

Below is a case study about Durham University’s leading role in a national research project – Network-H2 – to decarbonise transport through hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and technology.

Road, rail, air and marine transport accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions making it a significant contributor to climate change. Hydrogen offers a clean and renewable alternative to fossil fuels and can bring significant environmental benefits to transport, society and the wider energy system.

Durham University is leading a national research project to decarbonise transport through hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and technology. Network-H2 brings together international experts from the energy, road, rail, air and marine transport sectors to support the decarbonisation of the whole transport network.

The project is looking at the technological, social, political and economic factors necessary to increase the use of hydrogen as fuel, and knowledge exchange between researchers and industry.

The energy sector has been identified as an area of strategic importance in North East Strategic Economic Plan. It provides huge opportunities to drive and enable regional economic growth, and North East organisations are creating wealth, skills, and jobs in the region by responding to national energy challenges and opportunities.

To find out more about Network-H2, visit www.net-zero-research.co.uk.

Read more about how universities in the region are playing a central role in supporting the region to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

Universities support North East’s economic recovery: Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East

Universities have a vital role to play in helping the North East economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The work being delivered by North East universities is supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, and shaping and supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University are all members of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

Below is a case study about Newcastle University’s Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East programme, which accelerates the North East’s economic impact by pairing Newcastle University’s research, knowledge and innovations with the needs of local SMEs.

Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East gives SMEs access to more than 2,500 academics, innovators and experts at Newcastle University to help them develop new products or services, access new markets, or gain market share.

Arrow matches businesses with academics, innovation specialists and world-class researchers that can provide insight and expertise in areas such as research and product testing, data analysis and artificial intelligence.

The £3.4m innovation programme can also offer eligible SMEs up to £10,000 of match funding to buy services or equipment including; proof of concept and validation; survey and feasibility testing; product design; development and prototyping; analysis and testing; and commercial and contract research.

To date, more than 50 North East SMEs have received intensive innovation support from Arrow, including Your Health and Care Ltd, which provides complimentary services for people suffering from dementia, and Armatrex Ltd, which utilises expanding foam polymers to mobilise and support injuries.

Arrow works with companies to help drive their businesses forward through innovation and R&D support, leading to new investments and jobs. In line with the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, Arrow’s target sectors are; life sciences and healthcare; advanced manufacturing; creative and digital technologies; offshore, subsea and energy technologies.

To find out more about Arrow: Supporting Innovation in the North East, visit www.ncl.ac.uk.

Arrow is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Click here to read more about how universities in the region are playing a central role in supporting the region to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

Universities support North East’s economic recovery: TechUPWomen

Universities have a vital role to play in helping the North East economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The work being delivered by North East universities is supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, and shaping and supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University are all members of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

Below is a case study about Durham University’s TechUPWomen programme, which took 100 women from the North of England and the Midlands, and retrained them for a career in technology.

Durham University wanted to address the fact that only 17% of the tech workforce is female, and women from Black, Asian and other minority communities are under-represented in the sector.

In 2019 it launched TechUPWomen, a programme that retrained 100 women from the North of England and the Midlands for a career in technology. In spring 2020, the TechUPWomen participants graduated from the six-month programme having developed skills in data science, machine learning, and project management.

Whilst studying for the programme, participant Benedicta Banga launched her own app – Blaqbase. Fellow graduate Shakirah Mustapha-Tahir is now working for HR in One as Content Manager and has been elected Board Trustee of Being Woman UK. Winona Sharpe, who also completed the course, started a new position as Junior Release Associate with Double Eleven Ltd, a games developer based in Teesside.

Other success stories include Jennifer Calland who has a new job as a Google Certified Platform Engineer for Cloud Technology Solutions and has been awarded a place at Edge Hill University to do an MSc in Big Data Analytics. Course graduate Amy Woodget has a new job as Lead Advisor in Earth Observation for the Civil Service, and Katherine Iveson has a new job as a Data Analyst for HMRC.

Durham University’s TechUPWomen programme was named winner of the Employment & Skills category at the Digital Agenda Impact Awards, which celebrates how technology and innovation improves lives.

For more information about Durham University’s TechUPWomen programme, visit www.techupwomen.org.

Click here to read more about how universities in the region are playing a central role in supporting the region to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

North East LEP response to government’s new Peer Networks scheme

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, said: “Accessing knowledge, support and advice from peers is one of the most valuable resources for any new business.

“The £510k the North East LEP region has been awarded through government’s Peer Networks Programme will give hundreds of SMEs access to action learning sessions to help them to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting businesses’ collective action to revive sectors and areas such as town centres, and to share knowledge and best practice on what has helped them to overcome challenges and grasp opportunities.

“Working collaboratively has always been a strength of the North East business community. We can now utilise that peer support to boost our SMEs and aid our region’s economic recovery.”

For more information about the Peer Networks scheme and to register your interest, visit www.peernetworks.co.uk.

In conversation with Dr Yvonne Gale, Chief Executive of NEL Fund Managers Limited and Business Growth Board member at the North East LEP

As a newly appointed member of the Business Growth Board, how will your skills and experience support the North East LEP’s aim to increase the density of scaleups in the region?

“I have been working with scaling up local businesses my whole career, first in professional services, then running the finance teams inside several high growth local businesses, and now as CEO of NEL Fund Management who have funds specifically targeted at scaling up businesses. You could say I’m a finance for scale-ups expert – helping businesses to grow with the finance they need is what I do every day.

“I bring to the Business Growth Board the knowledge of what scaleups need so we can ensure, as a Board, we create a joined up system to empower businesses with growth potential and provide them with the wide range of ingredients they need, including finance. The more businesses with scaleup potential that are financed for deliverable business plans, the more we together increase the density of scaleups in the North East LEP region.”

How important will access to finance be for our regional economic recovery as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?

“Economically we are a long way both physically and culturally from City of London approaches to finance, but we don’t want any business to suffer for the lack of access to the right finance. Like most imbalances, the coronavirus pandemic has made more pronounced the existing disconnects.

“For years I’ve been advocating that accessing finance from a computer portal or call centre is fantastic until there’s a problem. An example is how many local businesses struggled to get through to their finance providers when they desperately needed to talk because they didn’t have a person-to-person relationship.

“Being able to access finance is about knowing where to go and who to talk to as much as it’s about the amounts involved and the level of cash. Central government created some fantastic interventions but these were for the heat of the emergency and not designed to be permanent or perfect. The recovery will take time and access to finance is likely to be a problem both in who will put up the finance in uncertain times, and does that finance fit the recovery, as every business will be different. As a Board, we need to ensure there is finance available that fills in any gaps over the medium to long term for regional businesses to deliver their potential.”

How will a recession further impact the North East, and what can businesses do to survive?

“I advocate three actions. First, good cashflow planning helps every business owner make informed decisions. As a chartered accountant, I would always advocate spending time on a good long range forecast, but almost anything is better than knee jerk reactions based on today’s bank account balance.

“Second, relationships matter when times are tough. The current situation presents an opportunity to forge deeper relationships with customers and suppliers. Now more than ever, people are logging who helps and who doesn’t. This creates opportunities for developing your business with new and existing partners.

“Third, the business world is in a state of flux and ‘fortune favours the brave’. It is difficult for complex organisations to be nimble but local businesses don’t need to wait for permission from head office. Now is the moment to think big and bold, striding out while others are busy elsewhere.”

Many small businesses are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. What support is available for them in the North East?

“There is an immense amount of support available in the North East, all of which have rapidly adapted so they can help now. The list is so long that it’s not possible to cover it in a blog. My best suggestion is to talk to people; be that your existing trusted advisors as there may be many ways they can help that you’ve never needed to ask about.

“If you want to widen your pool of who can help, consult the North East Growth Hub or make an appointment to talk to the Growth Hub Connectors. The Growth Hub is a comprehensive portal of the support available in the region.

“Of course if you need information on finance, I’m happy to help. You can reach me by emailing [email protected].”

Universities key to North East’s economic recovery

Universities from across the region have joined the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, the CBI on behalf of business organisations, and the North East Joint Transport Committee, in pledging their support for a new economic recovery plan that will help stabilise, adapt and rebuild the North East economy.

Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University are all members of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established by the North East LEP at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to provide business resilience and ensure a collective response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the North East economy.

The Group has recently published its economic response summary report.

The region’s academic institutions have continued to operate during lockdown, and the work carried out by North East universities is supporting the recovery of the UK economy as a whole and helping businesses in the region adapt to a new way of working.

Professor Jane Robinson, who is Dean of Engagement and Place at Newcastle University, represents the North East LEP region’s four universities (Newcastle/Sunderland/Northumbria/Durham) within the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

She said: “The universities will play a central role in supporting the region to recover from the post Covid-19 economic downturn. Universities contribute to the regional economy in a myriad of ways – as employers and educators and by linking our region to the rest of the UK and internationally. Critically at this time, as the source of research and expertise that will help our region not only survive, but thrive, as we enter the economic and social recovery phase of COVID-19. This collaborative approach signals our collective commitment to working in partnership with businesses and our communities to bring this knowledge to bear on the region’s recovery.”

The universities will help support the region’s economic recovery by:

  • Supporting new and existing businesses to innovate and grow, shaping and    supporting a more sustainable and inclusive economy
  • Identifying and meeting future skill needs – re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce
  • Connecting world-leading research and analytic capability to support scenario planning, problem solving and policy making
  • As major employers and ‘anchor institutions’ employing local people, supporting local supply chains, attracting and retaining talent and contributing to the vibrancy, culture and wider well-being of the region.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, (North East LEP), said: “Universities have a vital role to play in helping our region return to pre-coronavirus levels.

“They provide a highly skilled recruitment pipeline which will be essential for innovation businesses in our region. Tech, digital and life sciences are all areas of strategic importance for the North East so delivering a workforce with the skills that industry needs is key for the sectors’ success and the recovery of our economy.

“Knowledge exchange between academia and our region’s business community will help companies innovate and grow. High growth businesses are an essential part of a healthy economy; the expertise and knowledge at our universities can help us create more.

“As well as working extremely hard to deliver a world-class student experience during the coronavirus crisis, universities have a central role to play in our region’s economic recovery too.”

Universities are contributing to the new economic recovery plan in a number of different ways. Durham and Newcastle Universities are part of the N8 Research Partnership, which consists of the eight most research-intensive Universities in the North of England.

The N8 is currently involved in developing opportunities to unlock new business opportunities in the green economy, through the Net Zero North project, contributing to lasting prosperity for the North of England and beyond.  This is being achieved by accelerating the growth of the low carbon goods and services sector in the Northern Powerhouse through university-business-public sector collaboration.

Through the Northern Accelerator, Sunderland, Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities are continuing to accelerate the commercialisation of the North East’s world-class research to help boost the region’s economy.

Northumbria has joined forces with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to launch a major new programme to help North East businesses grow or expand into the health, wellness and social care delivery sectors. The new Purposeful Health Growth Accelerator, will offer practical support, advice and growth capital investment worth more than £1m in total to up to 200 North East firms.

Teesside University’s £22.3 million National Horizons Centre (NHC), which officially opened in October 2019, is a national centre of excellence for bioscience that brings together research, teaching and enterprise. The NHC was established to directly address the potential of the bioeconomy.

Within days of the World Health Organisation declaring a global pandemic, the NHC supplied tens of thousands of pounds of specialist kit and equipment to North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help them scale-up testing for Covid-19.

Other key initiatives led by the region’s universities to support the recovery of the North East’s economy include student and graduate internships in business and targeted enterprise programmes encouraging student startups.

For more information about the North East COVID-19 Response Group and the economic recovery plan visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

Click here to see examples from Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University showing how they are working with the region to support its economic recovery.

In conversation with Paul Butler, CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance and newly appointed Business Growth Board member at the North East LEP

Paul Butler, CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance, explains how the Business Growth Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership – of which he is a member – is backing business to support more and better jobs.

Strong leadership is critical right now. What role will you be playing as a newly appointed Business Growth Board member?

The Business Growth Board has a key role to play in helping support the North East region, and the companies within it, to ensure we’re in a strong position when we come out the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is a lot of work we need to do, but I believe we have a strong board and we are focused on providing the right support at the right time to speed up recovery.

In my role as CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance, I represent over 270 companies across the automotive sector and associated supply chains. Prior to that I worked in the Chemical and Pharmaceutical sectors with NEPIC and during that time supported the delivery of the regional UKTI services so I have a broad knowledge of the North East business base – particularly across the key manufacturing sectors. I am also a cluster management expert and have knowledge of the business support frameworks deployed in other countries, especially across Europe.

I bring all that experience to my role on the Business Growth Board so I can help the North East LEP bring together the right business support that’s required at this very challenging time.

From my very first meetings with the Business Growth Board I’ve been very impressed with its response. There is a real drive and desire to get the right framework to support businesses. In the longer-term, it’s about continuing that so we can deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan, the Local Industrial Strategy, and really drive the region forward.

What are the biggest challenges facing the North East manufacturing sector right now?

Given my role I have a bias towards the automotive sector but the challenges we face are common with other manufacturing sectors.

The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis and as a global sector the impact has been felt hard by automotive companies and their associated supply chains. We are driven by demand so as countries entered strict lockdown measures the markets effectively closed. Thankfully, we have seen dealerships starting to open from the 1st June in the UK and other important markets are also opening, this is an important first step in the recovery for the sector.

As we come out of lockdown and begin the recovery the biggest challenge faced by the sector is managing the recovery – reacting to a very turbulent market and providing safe working environments for our excellent workforce as they return to work. As a cluster we have been doing a lot of work to share best practice around restart planning which has been shared with networks here in the North East, and across the UK.

We will continue to see a technological revolution as we see the introduction of new technologies linked to the global carbon emissions and climate change challenges; and the UK Government’s NetZero 2050 target and subsequent announcement that it was set to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2035. This had an immediate impact on the market and accelerated the move towards electrification.

I also believe the Covid-19 pandemic will hasten the move towards connected and autonomous mobility (CAM) to provide safe transportation for vulnerable people and zero touch logistics.

The region has strengths in both electrification and CAM which I am sure we can capitalise on for the betterment of the region.

Forecasting demand must be hard for the manufacturing industry during the pandemic. What words of advice can you share?

Demand is extremely difficult to forecast and that is a key challenge for manufacturing businesses.

Government support for the industry has been excellent, its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has definitely saved a huge number of jobs. But as we begin to return to work, demand is difficult to predict. It’s important we work with government to make sure the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or an equivalent, is put in place that allows more flexibility. We don’t want to be in a position where we bring people out of furlough to find demand is not as expected and we need to take them out the business again.

We need more flexibility to bring back the employees we need at the right time. It’s going to be a very turbulent period. If we see a second spike across Europe and the UK, markets could go into lockdown again.

I’m not from the North East originally but I’ve lived here for 19 years. The manufacturing base in the North East has a very adaptable workforce; one of our key strengths is our people. I have no doubt that the workforce and companies based in the region will be able to adapt quickly to any flux in demand. Our agility is our strength.

How can manufacturers get employees back on site safely as we see a return to the workplace?

There is lots of guidance available that companies need to follow. Government has released up-to-date guidance for a range of different workplaces.

We’ve been taking into account guidance from across the country and abroad, and disseminating strategies through a global network so companies have access to best practice on restart planning. We’ve taken the best ideas from around the world and looked at how we can implement them here in the North East.

I’m a member of a European cluster network and having reviewed what others have done, the North East is right up there with the best. And I think that’s been due to our willingness to share knowledge and experience with others.

All our businesses have been looking to ensure workers return to a safe working environment. We’re really going over and above in the North East.

A key part of our success is communication with employees; companies are constantly engaging with their workforce. Businesses are communicating all the measures they are introducing to keep people safe, for example, conducting risk assessments, adopting PPE, introducing COVID-19 champions to help implement changes, and amending working practices to mitigate risk by adding protective screens and having staff members face the same direction at work. Businesses are taking every measure they can.

Other measures include temperature testing on arrival at work, increased cleaning regimes, and one way systems to avoid cross over points in the workplace. Induction days have been introduced to take employees around sites so they can see the changes and return to work knowing every precaution has been taken to keep them safe.

In fact, since going back to work, many people have said they feel safer at work that other environments outside the home.

The North East Automotive Alliance is a partner of Supply Chain North East. What advice and support can this give business owners as they navigate this turbulence

Many businesses are predicting it’s going to take 12 months to two years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and get back to normal market conditions. As it’s going to be a long recovery period it’s important, we engage and support as many SMEs across the North East.

Supply Chain North East is a key programme for the region and the North East Automotive Alliance is one of four partners involved in the programme alongside RTC North, Generator and NEPIC.

The premise of Supply Chain North East is to either help companies strengthen their business base in the sectors they work in – for example, an automotive businesses looking to expand and grow in its sector – or the other side is to help companies diversify and use their skills to work in different sectors of industry.

Across the programme we have a lot of skill sets to support businesses. The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the economy and Supply Chain North East can help businesses to either grow their existing business base or help them to move into new markets.

In addition, our capital grants programme has been updated. SMEs can access up to 60% in grants (increased from a cap of 40%) towards stalled pipeline projects due to COVID-19 or activities aimed at developing the supply chain; and payments can be made at the start of a project. Critically, grants up to 80% are available for companies which can potentially support supply chain needs relating to the health and social care sectors.

We’re currently talking to businesses, discussing the challenges they are facing, and working with them to put together an action plan to help them come through the other side of this crisis.

More information is available at www.supplychainnortheast.co.uk.

North East Local Enterprise Partnership publishes its Annual Review 2019-2020

Tribute paid to its ‘exceptional’ team and the resilience of the North East’s business community.

The Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Helen Golightly, has paid tribute to the LEP’s ‘exceptional’ team and spoken about how the region’s inbuilt resilience and strong community will see it through the coronavirus crisis, in its Annual Review, published today.

Referencing the annual government review of all Local Enterprise Partnerships, which resulted in the North East LEP being marked exceptional for its delivery, Golightly said: “This demonstrates our strong leadership and solid implementation to ensure that our strategic projects are delivered to make the maximum impact to boost economic development and create more and better jobs.”

The Annual Review 2019-2020 sets out the progress that has been made against the six targets in the Strategic Economic Plan, in relation to the number, quality and type of employment opportunities available, the proportion of the workforce that is in employment and economically active, and productivity.

The two headline targets are to increase the number of jobs between 2014-2024 by 100,000 and for 70% of these jobs to be ‘better jobs’.

While COVID-19 has since made these targets more difficult to achieve, by December 2019 total employment had increased by 57,000. Employment in ‘better jobs’ had increased by 70,400.

Other key achievements in the last twelve months have included the North East Growth Hub becoming a critical resource for North East businesses, offering support on the EU Exit and how to best mitigate the impact of coronavirus. The launch of a second Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot has also taken place in the North East LEP region, this time focusing on primary schools.

The government announced in March 2020 that the North East will be at the centre of investment in innovation, while a highlight within the North East LEP’s transport programme has been the region collectively securing £198m from the Transforming Cities Fund to invest in key sustainable transport projects.

Speaking about the challenges currently being faced by businesses, North East LEP Chief Executive Helen Golightly said: “These may be truly uncertain and turbulent times but rest assured, we continue to support businesses and communities.

“This region is not frightened of a challenge and I am confident that our inbuilt resilience and strong community identity will carry us through to the recovery when we will do everything we possibly can to ensure our regional economy is back to pre-COVID-19 levels – and stronger again.”

Click here to read the North East LEP’s Annual Review 2019-2020.