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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“As we mark the anniversary of the first lockdown, today’s data release is a timely reminder of the changes which COVID-19 has meant for our labour market. It provides the latest official data which includes regional employment information for the three months up to and including January 2021 and also annual comparisons.

“In the most recent months, the headline data has been stable. The employment rate in the North East region, which includes the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas, remains the lowest in England at 71.3 per cent, 0.1 percentage points higher than in the last quarter but 0.4 percentage points down on a year ago.

“The region has the second highest unemployment rate (6.2 per cent of the economically active) and the highest proportion of working age people who are economically inactive (23.8 per cent). Almost 30,000 workers in the region have been made redundant during the past year.

“However, some of the recent impact of COVID-19 has been masked by an increase in the use of furlough in the region. Over 114,000 North East employments were furloughed at the end of January, more than double the total of three months earlier. Most furloughed workers continue to be classified as employed in the official statistics.

“The impact on different groups in our population has been different. Younger people have experienced particular challenges both in employment and training and there have also been different patterns in the impact for men and women in the past year. The number of unemployed women has increased by 14 per cent, while male unemployment is lower (by about 8 per cent). Almost 52 per cent of furloughed workers in the North East at the end of January were female.

“The progress we are seeing towards the lifting of lockdown restrictions offers hope for the thousands of businesses unable to trade. Support for these businesses remaining under restrictions needs to continue.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with government as we look to drive forward our economy and address some of the key challenges which COVID-19 has created in our region.”

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Universities support North East’s economic recovery: START UP at Newcastle University

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 START UP offer, with a focus on the impact student and graduate businesses it supports are having within the region, and how they are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Newcastle University is ranked Top 5 in the UK for graduate entrepreneurship based on start-up turnover and investment raised. Based on average investment per start-up, the University is ranked Top 10 in the UK for scalable graduate start-ups and has generated the most investable graduate start-ups in the North East.

START UP is an equity-free support system for Newcastle University students and graduates up to three years and includes START UP Founderships, a pre-accelerator programme to ready the individual and their businesses for market entry, investment and success.

There are currently 203 START UP-supported businesses trading with a combined annual turnover of close to £60 million. Between them, they’ve raised over £19 million in external investment, won national and global awards and created 695 full-time equivalent jobs.

*All rankings and statistics from HE-BCI Survey 2018-19.

Over 70% of these businesses have remained in the North East, many of which recruit within the region, such as One Utility Bill, Nebula Labs and My Healthcare Recruit. Many the businesses are securing impressive investment figures.

In September 2020, Equiwatt raised over £300,000 to roll-out its innovative, energy-efficient app and create four new jobs in Newcastle. A month prior, Tea Ventures Ltd (NovelTea) welcomed 1,000 investors onboard as part of a crowdfund campaign that raised £577,000 to advance its plans to break into the US market, and in December, gained a further £1.4M investment for expansion and job creation.

Many of the START UP founders are persevering or finding ways to pivot despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. Some have received grant support through Newcastle University’s partnership with Santander Universities UK to help them survive and thrive in 2020, and others are applying to a newly launched fund of £40,000.

“Last year with Santander Universities, we launched a Covid-19 Fund to help our START UP community adapt in response to the global crisis, supporting some businesses to scale in order to meet new demand. This new Fund is about stimulating and supporting the next wave of entrepreneurs and changemakers who will have a critical role to play in our economic and social recovery” said Claire Adamson, START UP Manager, Newcastle University. “It is also about making visible and celebrating the individuals joining the growing community of Newcastle University students and graduates who have created their own graduate jobs as well as employment opportunities for others”, she added.

Santander Universities has been in partnership with Newcastle University since 2009 and has provided close to £1.7M to the University, with £189k appointed to enterprise activities.

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, says: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. We’re proud of our partnership with Newcastle University and we’re delighted to support their new Start Up Fund which will enable many more budding entrepreneurs to thrive, particularly during this challenging time.”

To find out more about START UP, visit www.ncl.ac.uk.

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.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Strategy and Policy Director, Richard Baker, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Today’s figures continue to demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy with a continuing decrease in employment and a rise in the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits.

“The decision to extend the furlough scheme will protect many jobs for the future. However, it remains an uncertain time for businesses as a result of Covid controls and the need to continue to adapt to new processes following the Trade Deal with the European Union.

“It is essential that government continues to support the economy through the pandemic and invests to support the proposals in our COVID-19 Recovery Plan to enable us to drive forward our region’s recovery.

“The data released today covers the three-month period to November 2020. Employment continued to decrease during this time, both nationally and in the North East. The employment rate for the North East region, including the North East LEP and the Tees Valley LEP areas, was the lowest in England at 71.2 per cent. Both the unemployment rate and the number of working age people outside the labour market were much higher than they were between March and May 2020. The number of people being made redundant was at its highest level since 2009.

“In the North East LEP area, the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has increased by over 31,000 since March, with rates at 10 per cent in some areas. Employment in the region has fallen in most age groups, but the largest impact appears to have been on those aged under 25 and among 50 to 64-year-olds.

“These statistics include the November lockdown period but do not include the impact of the restrictions since Christmas.

“Strategic leadership and a strong partnership with government is more critical than ever – we will work closely with government to ensure that support for businesses is reflective of the need of our region.”

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Funding on offer for North East employers to help young people into work

New funding from government is on offer to help employers in the North East create job placements for young people who might otherwise be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Applications are now open for the Kickstart Scheme, which offers employers of any size, and operating in any sector, funding to create new, six month job placements for young people who are currently receiving Universal Credit.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, explains: “The aim of this new scheme is to help young people gain the skills, confidence and experience that they need in order to go on and find work once they’ve completed their job placement.

“It’s not just a short-term measure. In the North East we really want to provide high quality job placements that will not only give young people experience of the workplace, but also give them valuable opportunities to learn and progress.”

Businesses that want to create 30 or more job placements can apply directly to the Kickstart Scheme via www.gov.uk. For businesses that plan to create fewer than 30 placements, the North East LEP will apply on their behalf, grouping applications to create clusters of high quality placements across a range of sectors in the North East.

Organisations of any size are eligible to apply, as long as the placements they are creating help young people to become more employable, for example, by helping them develop their skills in the workplace, by providing support with interview preparation and CV development, or by providing careers advice and help with goal-setting.

The funding on offer includes 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021.

Michelle Rainbow added: “We know that young people, many of whom have finished school, college or university during the pandemic, are facing a difficult time and might have seen their plans for the future turned upside down.

“That’s why programmes like this are so important, and why we are working with North East employers to help give the next generation the best possible start in what is one of the most difficult times any of us have seen.”

For more information about the Kickstart Scheme visit www.northeastlep.co.uk/kickstart.

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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.

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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.

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The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group: Keeping people in employment

A North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has launched to provide business resilience and get the region ready for recovery throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. It has a five point plan in place.

In our latest blog, Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), outlines the response in terms of keeping people in employment. 

The impact of Coronavirus on the North East marketplace has been hard and fast. As such, it won’t surprise anyone that one of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group’s immediate priorities is to ensure that businesses keep people in employment and avoid shedding jobs.

In the first instance we are working hard to signpost employers to relevant information and financial support so they have options. Similarly, we are directing employees to advice so they are fully aware of their rights. 

Alongside this, we are coordinating a region-wide response to the more medium-term impact on jobs. This includes trying to capitalise on opportunities for redeployment; thinking about where there may be new and emerging roles; and supporting those who find themselves out of work both now and in the future.

Things are moving rapidly

This is a rapidly developing situation and it is hard to get a real reading on the current level of unemployment in the North East but we continue to gather intelligence and data, such as redundancy figures, and monitor the situation so we can provide appropriate interventions in a timely fashion. It’s likely we won’t have a true reflection until we are well past the other side of the lockdown. 

It’s really important that anyone affected can make sense of the regular updates coming from central Government so we have coordinated a response via the North East Growth Hub. This provides an up to date resource that simplifies things and people can trust. It features frequently asked questions and there is an opportunity to speak to experts if there is something specific visitors to the Hub need help with.

Help at the right time

The recent Government interventions came at a very timely moment. The opportunity to furlough workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a lifeline for a lot of companies and it has been very positive to see take up of this. 

It’s also been good to see many organisations move their workforces to home working so they can keep trading. There is definitely a pattern emerging where staff are being moved to shorter hours to keep them on the payroll while business is quiet. Everything like this helps right now.

Redeployment will be crucial to keeping people in jobs. Some sectors such as retail and tourism have been severely impacted so it’s crucial we look at how the transferable skills available can be used elsewhere, particularly where resource might be tight, for example in the health and social care sector. With the right training and background checks this is achievable and something I believe businesses will quickly get their heads round.

We’re on your side

Everyone is anxious right now, even those with jobs who are wondering what the new world will look like post Coronavirus. My advice is to check out the wealth of excellent advice available, such as on the Government site and via organisations such as TUC, all of which can be found by visiting the North East Growth Hub website. 

Ultimately, people can feel confident that this North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is working with the North East Skills Advisory Panel and other partners to do absolutely everything it can to help the North East community weather this crisis and to make sure regional businesses remain well represented to Government.

To stay up to date with progress, follow @northeastlep on Twitter or visit the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group page. Lots of helpful support can also be found on the North East Growth Hub.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data covers both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas and is for the final quarter of 2019.

“Employment has fallen, with 12,000 fewer people in work between October and December 2019 than in the previous quarter, and 13,000 fewer than in the same period in 2018. The sharp decline over the last quarter is disappointing news for the North East. It reflects part of a broader trend with the North East being one of four English regions (Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, South West) to experience a decline in employment over the last quarter.

“Within this overall trend, the number of women employed has increased over the quarter by 7,000, while the number of men in employment has declined by 19,000. It is unclear at the moment what is driving these differing trends.

“Unemployment increased by 3,000 over the quarter and by 9,000 over the year, increasing the unemployment rate from 5.4% to 6.1%. The North East is the English region with the highest unemployment rate. Again, the trends differ across genders, with male unemployment increasing over both the quarter and the year, whilst female unemployment has fallen.

“Combined, these figures suggest the North East labour market is less strong than it was a year ago.

“It will be critically important that the North East Local Enterprise Partnership continues to work with partners across the region to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of more and better jobs. The Strategic Economic Plan is the region’s plan for delivering economic growth, but we cannot do it alone. We hope that the upcoming Budget prioritises those investments that partners in the region have highlighted to government as being important to driving growth in our economy.”

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

“Today’s statistics show that the number of people in employment in the North East region – which includes both the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas – has increased by 6,000 over the last three months.

“Combined with statistics released last month that showed between March and June, the North East was the region in the UK with the largest increase in filled jobs, this suggests the regional labour market has begun to strengthen after a period of declining employment earlier in the year.

“Whilst the number of people in employment has increased, the number participating in the labour market has grown even faster. As a result, unemployment has also increased with 3,000 more people unemployed than last quarter.

“As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, there remains significant uncertainty in the economy.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with partners in the region, as well as Government, to create more and better jobs for our region and to support residents to access good quality employment opportunities.”

For the latest information and guidance on how businesses can prepare for Brexit, visit the North East Growth Hub’s free Brexit Toolkit.