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.

North East LEP and regional partners submit response to government’s consultation on UK Freeports

Paul Carbert, Economic Policy Co-ordinator at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, outlines the North East’s innovative response, which would drive economic growth in the region, create jobs and regenerate coastal communities.

As the UK prepares to complete its exit from the EU and establishes new trading relationships around the world, the UK government launched a consultation earlier this year on Freeports policy.

Freeports and free zones are in place in many parts of the world. They are areas within a country’s land border where different customs rules apply, and are being considered by government as part of its future strategy to strengthen trade relationships and secure inward investment. Freeports provide benefits for exporters and importers because goods can be imported into, manufactured, and exported from inside the zone without incurring tariffs and customs duties unless they enter the domestic market. They offer the potential to promote regeneration and job creation in those areas within the zone and drive growth in the wider economy.

The government’s consultation has sought views on how they should structure their approach to Freeports. It envisages that because of their likely location close to ports or in coastal areas, the strategy offers the opportunity to stimulate the economies of often deprived areas. They are also seeking proposals which position Freeports as hubs for innovation to test new ideas and technologies. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and an active list of partners comprising of the North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, Business Durham, the CBI, the North East England Chamber of Commerce, Port of Blyth, Port of Sunderland, Port of Tyne, Newcastle International Airport, University of Sunderland, Durham University, Newcastle University, and Northumbria University, submitted a response to the Government’s consultation earlier this month that outlines the region’s preferred approach to Freeports; one that focuses on new growth and jobs, the regeneration of key coastal areas and the development of other parts of the regional economy. It also reinforces the need for the UK’s existing labour market, security and environmental standards to be maintained.

After conducting research and gathering the views of local partners, the North East response has proposed that a multi-site, digitally enabled Free Trade Zone – linking key manufacturing sites in the North East with ports – would provide the greatest benefit for the North East. It would add value to our current economy, provide an opportunity to deploy and test a range of new digital approaches, and guard against the risk of local displacement of economic activity. It would complement a free trade deal with the European Union.

The innovative approach put forward for the North East takes into account the region’s industrial and logistics structure and would build on its wide-ranging assets. It would allow the region’s digital sector to develop innovation that would improve the operation and efficiency of Freeports, and provide an opportunity to stimulate job growth in key sectors such as advanced manufacturing, energy, digital, and transport, particularly at a time when the region’s economy will be continuing to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst the region agrees Freeports are not a substitute for a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU – the preference in the North East is for both a deal and a Free Trade Zone – should the UK leave the transition period without a new trade deal, Freeports would mitigate some of the impact and provide opportunities to build on existing supply chains and clusters, and attract inward investment.

Following the submission of the region’s response to the Government’s consultation, the North East LEP and its partners will now work on preparing a collaborative bid to a government sponsored competition which is expected in the Autumn, to establish a North East Free Trade Zone.

To receive further updates about the North East LEP’s bid for a North East Free Trade Zone, please sign up to receive Insights North East, the newsletter from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

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.

In conversation with Andrew Moffat, Board member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), about investment in the East Coast Mainline

A key driver for a strong and resilient economy is good connectivity. Without it, people, goods and data can’t be moved easily and efficiently, which impacts productivity and performance.

Connectivity is even more important to us here in the North East because of our geography. We, more than many other regions in the UK, rely heavily on road, rail, air and sea links to help us do business in the region, across the country and all over the world.

Our assets include the largest light railway system outside of London, an international airport, three major ports and a road network that links us to the rest of the country.

We also have an extensive rail network that provides us with regular and direct services to Scotland, London, Manchester and other key economic hubs in the UK.

Of course to remain competitive and to access markets, it’s essential we continually invest in our infrastructure to ensure it is future proof and fit for purpose. It’s for that reason I support the call for government to pledge significant investment in the East Coast Mainline.

The current East Coast Mainline is unable to cope with growing demand on the route. As well as carrying 15 million passengers from the region each year, the East Coast Mainline is a major freight route that supports the region’s expanding automotive industry and transports goods including coal and biomass.

The line reduces from four to two tracks north of Northallerton, which reduces capacity on the network and impacts its efficiency. Services on the line have also been subject to delays or cancellation because of ongoing under-investment.

For us to achieve the aims set out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan and ensure the North East remains a key player in the Northern Powerhouse, we must build capacity on the network and make sure it’s ready to support HS2 services by 2033.

As the former Chief Executive of Port of Tyne, I know – first hand – how important our region’s rail system, and particularly the East Coast Mainline, is to our economy. Without it, Port of Tyne would have missed out on major contracts that helped us create jobs and boost the local economy.

Transport for the North is campaigning for better connectivity to unlock the economic potential of the North. Its proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail network would transform how people travel across the North and boost productivity by closing the gap with the South. The East Coast Mainline will have a major role to play so it is vital government make the funding available to carry out works the line so desperately needs.

A recent report into the benefits of investment in the East Coast Mainline found the impact of HS2 and investment in the line between York and Newcastle would generate around £493m of GVA to the UK economy each year and £100.42m GVA per annum for the North East.

As a region we must be better connected so we can access new markets and position ourselves as a major economic hub in the UK. We already have to work harder than other areas because of our physical location but by improving our transport infrastructure and ensuring it’s future proof, we can compete globally, grow our economy, create more and better jobs and bring more investment into the region.

By Andrew Moffat
Board member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Bringing the Energy Opportunity to the North East

Next week I will be taking part in a panel discussion at the CBI’s conference, The Energy Opportunity which is taking place at Newcastle University.

The event will focus on helping businesses in the North to understand and take advantage of new opportunities which are arising as a result of innovation and transformation taking place in the energy sector.

This theme is of particular importance to us here in the North East. The entire Northern Powerhouse area is crucial for the UK when it comes to energy expertise and delivery, but the North East in particular has a long-established heritage in the energy sector, and today the region is home to globally important centres of innovation, demonstration and delivery.

We are ideally positioned as a region to play a key role in developing solutions to national energy challenges and it’s fitting that the conference is taking place in the region and that the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is involved as a sponsor.

Earlier this year the North East LEP launched the North East’s Energy for Growth strategy, which lays out how the North East LEP will play its part by bringing together partners in the region to deliver on national energy challenges at scale, and drive growth for the region

Next week we’ll be making a further announcement about plans to unite partners across the North East energy sector, as we work to capitalise on the assets we have in our region and show how the North East energy sector can take a leading role in driving clean economic growth.

If you’re attending the conference and would like to talk more about how we can work together, I’d love to hear from you – please do get in touch.

Andrew Clark, Energy Programme Lead, North East Local Enterprise Partnership

 

Energy for Growth: a new strategy for the North East

The North East LEP’s new Energy for Growth strategy aims to drive economic growth in the North East while also bringing sector partners together to deliver at scale on national energy strategy.

Andrew Clark, North East LEP Energy Programme Lead, explains more.

We’ve been actively consulting with cross-sector partners across the North East with an interest in the energy agenda to develop the Energy for Growth strategy, and bring stakeholders together to capitalise on the North East’s significant strengths and opportunities in this area.

Our vision for the Energy for Growth strategy is to drive growth in the North East while delivering on national energy objectives at scale. The strategy helps us shape regional delivery, taking forward a key strand of the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). The SEP identifies energy as an area of strategic importance for the North East, with potential to bring investment and jobs to our region. Through the Energy for Growth strategy we will build on our commitment to drive forward this opportunity.

Within the strategy, we’ve identified 13 themes where the North East can both contribute to national policy and drive growth within the region, ranging from low-emission transport to offshore energy, heat networks, and geothermal energy from old mine workings.

We’ve also outlined three distinct workstreams through which we will build and support a pipeline of forthcoming projects around these themes, to help us to achieve the aims of the strategy.

One of these workstreams is offshore energy and subsea technology, focusing on supporting the North East’s world-leading strengths and supply chain operating in this arena. A second workstream is around regional energy projects, where delivery of energy projects at scale, for example around heat, power or transport, in the North East can help solve national challenges.

The third workstream is energy demonstration and innovation. This is where the first two meet, with a nationally significant asset base in the North East in innovating, demonstrating and delivering new solutions across all forms of energy technologies, systems, policy and research.

As the UK builds on its clean growth commitments, the North East is in an important position to be the partner of choice for industry and government when it comes to testing, developing and delivering new energy technologies and solutions. Potential growth of the UK low carbon economy is estimated at 11% per year between 2015 and 2030 – four times faster than the rest of the economy – and this is an area where we can make a real difference with our comprehensive regional capabilities.

The energy sector is one which has huge potential to bring more and better jobs to the North East, alongside a host of wider social and environmental benefits. If you’re involved in an energy project that you think could impact national policy and bring investment to our region, I’d love to hear from you.

Andrew Clark, North East LEP Energy Programme Lead.

Read an executive summary of the Energy for Growth strategy here and read the full strategy here.

 

Looking to the future of the North East economy

We all know about the North East’s magnificent heritage, and the engineering feats that once made the region a global industrial power.

But our plan for the region’s future doesn’t rely on the past. Instead, it talks about the strengths we have today, and the innovations which will enable our economy to thrive now and in the future.

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today: that’s the thinking behind the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the blueprint for creating 100,000 more and better jobs in our region by 2024.

The Plan draws on the strength of our digital and energy sectors, and the work that’s making the North East stand out in health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. These are the areas which will drive the North East economy forwards.

Read the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

North East LEP publishes second, annual Our Economy report

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) publishes its second annual Our Economy report today (Friday 10 May) at an event at Crowne Plaza Newcastle.

Providing an update on the current performance of the North East economy and how it is changing over time, Our Economy 2019 also looks at what makes the North East a competitive place for businesses and residents.

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our Economy 2019 uses a range of indicators to give us a clearer picture of how our region is performing.

“We’ve been able to look at important factors like how many businesses there are in the North East and whether they are growing, innovating and exporting. We’ve also looked at how many jobs there are in the North East, how many of our residents are in work and the levels of investment into the region.

“By understanding what the statistics tell us about our economy, we can focus our efforts on the most important issues and identify the activities that will help achieve the ambition set out in the Strategic Economic Plan to create 100,000 more and better jobs.”

Each year, the Our Economy report takes a more detailed look at a particular topic. This year it focuses on what makes the North East a competitive place. Being competitive is about providing the right environment for the region’s existing and potential businesses to invest and grow and somewhere individuals can realise their ambitions, building and nurturing confidence.

The evidence in Our Economy shows that innovation, business structure and technological readiness, and efforts to build the skills and capabilities of residents are all key factors underpinning the North East’s competitiveness. It also highlights the assets in the region that contribute to a high quality of life.

The event in Newcastle features keynote speakers including Richie Ramsden, Head of Data Science – Innovation Incubator at AkzoNobel, who considers the North East to be the best place in the UK to undertake data science. Professor Jane Robinson, Dean of Engagement and Place at Newcastle University will speak on how the North East’s universities contribute to the region’s success.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “Given the political and economic uncertainty we’ve experienced in the last few months, it’s more important than ever we continue to review the performance of the North East economy.

“The data in Our Economy 2019 shows we can have confidence in our approach, but it also identifies the areas, as a region, we need to address, for example, low levels of innovation. This kind of detailed analysis is vital as we continue to develop the North East Local Industrial Strategy in partnership with government.

“Our Economy continues to be an important resource for the region and I’d like to thank everyone that contributed to this year’s report.”

To read the North East LEP’s Our Economy report in full, click here. It provides detail on progress against the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) targets, including the region’s ambition to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024. To read the Strategic Economic Plan, click here.

North East LEP publishes updated Strategic Economic Plan

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today (Thursday 14 February) published its updated Strategic Economic Plan, which outlines how it will help create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region by 2024.

The newly updated plan reflects on recent changes to the global and national economy as well as the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union. It also looks at how the North East can maximise opportunities around the UK’s Industrial Strategy, particularly in areas such as green energy and an ageing population.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “2014 saw the publication of the North East LEP’s original Strategic Economic Plan, which set out in clear terms our approach to growing the regional economy and creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

“Fast forward to 2019 and our ambition remains the same, but what has changed is the political and economic landscape we find ourselves in. We’re on the brink of leaving the European Union and a new Mayoral North of Tyne Combined Authority has been formed.

“It’s for those reasons and more we’ve chosen to launch a refreshed Strategic Economic Plan, one that reflects the significant changes we’re experiencing as a country, and a region.”

The North East Strategic Economic Plan identifies four areas of strategic importance that will improve the region’s economic competitiveness. They are the digital, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and energy sectors.

Five programmes of activity, delivered by the North East LEP and its partners, support these areas of industry to grow, helping boost the economy and create more jobs for the people that live and work in the region.

They include helping North East businesses to grow and scale, and to compete on a global level; embracing Industry 4.0 and integrating technology and innovation into everything we do; improving skills and careers education across the North East; forging better and more sustainable transport links across the region and Northern Powerhouse; and investing in major capital infrastructure projects.

Andrew continued: “Whilst the current economic and political climate may pose challenges for our region, it also provides a number of opportunities. The refreshed Strategic Economic Plan we’re launching today outlines how, as a region, we can maximise those opportunities to strengthen and grow our economy.

“A good example is the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change and promoting clean growth. Here in the North East we are the leading location in England for the wind energy sector and our world-leading businesses and strong local supply chain puts us at the very heart of the clean energy revolution.

“We’re also global players in the health and life sciences sector, with our infrastructure, expertise and research into ageing one of our major strengths. This year alone we’ve seen the arrival of The Biosphere and National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle Helix, and NETPark in County Durham continues to thrive, helping new and emerging health and life sciences business go to market.”

Since the launch of the Strategic Economic Plan in 2014, 64,600 new jobs have been created with 77% of those classed as better jobs, in managerial, professional and technical roles. The region has also seen improvements in its employment rate, economic activity rate and productivity.

Read a copy of the updated Strategic Economic Plan.