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Lord Andrew Adonis revealed the contents of the North East Independent Economic Review report today (Thursday 11 April): the culmination of more than six months detailed work by Lord Adonis, chair of the NEIER and the economic review team, who have been working with North East private and public sector, universities, voluntary and community groups.

Creating more and better jobs for the NELEP economy is at the heart of the report’s agenda.

The report highlights five priorities in achieving that aim:

· Champion “North East International”, promoting the region at home and abroad as a magnet for trade, talent, tourism and inward investment.

· A doubling in the number of youth apprenticeships to tackle the evil of low skills and high youth unemployment, alongside higher school standards and an increase in the proportion going on to higher education.

· A North East Innovation Board charged with developing strong “innovation and growth clusters”, stimulating universities and their graduates, and existing companies and public institutions, to create and finance new high growth enterprises and jobs.

· Big improvements in transport infrastructure and services to overcome the relative national and international isolation of the North East and to improve connections within the North East so that people can get to and from work more easily and cheaply.

· The creation of stronger public institutions, including the location of key national institutions – such as the new British Business Bank – in the North East.

Among the proposals to be acted upon by the North East LEP, its partners and the government is the creation of three managed entities: North East International, Transport North East and Skills North East. The Combined Authority of all seven local authorities in the North East LEP area and NELEP would work in partnership to deliver these.

North East International builds on the North East LEP area’s UK-leading export success and international investment to produce an effective worldwide focus on the area’s trade, inward investment, talent and tourism. Through this managed, resourced entity, North East companies will be included in many more global export drives, driving forward the area as a serious player on the international stage in its key sectors.

Three Open Innovation and Growth Centres (Bionow, Neptune and AMAP) will be established, bringing together companies and angel investor networks to boost the commercialisation of innovation. Global giant Procter & Gamble, which has had a North East base for over 80 years, is a strong supporter of open innovation and aims to treble sales resulting from such research partnerships to $3bn by 2015. The centres will break down boundaries between companies to create new business opportunities across the North East area.

The proposed British Business Bank or a Regional Business Bank is one of the aims of the North East Finance and Investment Board which NELEP will establish to help business access finance more easily. It will also create a mechanism to help smaller, fast growing firms access the large chunks of funds they need to move forwards.

A commitment to smartcard ticketing across the NELEP area as good as or better than London’s Oyster is a key priority. Transport North East – ‘a single transport delivery agency’ will bring together airports, ports and public transport to improve connectivity and boost growth.

Comprehensive broadband connectivity across rural parts of Northumberland, Durham and Tyne and Wear is to be achieved by 2016.

Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the North East Independent Economic Review, presented the recommendations of the review, alongside the economic review team of Heidi Mottram, CEO Northumbrian Water and member of the CBI’s national infrastructure panel; Will Hutton, chair of the Big Innovation Centre and principal of Hertford College, Oxford; Lord Don Curry, leading businessman and chair of NFU Mutual; Bridget Rosewell, economist and senior partner of Volterra Partners; and Jonathan Ruffer, chair of Ruffer LLP to an audience of business, public sector, MPs and university representatives.

Lord Adonis said: “The imperative for the North East is create more and better jobs – starting with a doubling of youth apprenticeships so that school-leavers are on the road to a job not the road to the dole. I strongly welcome the decision by the seven local councils to set up a Combined Authority focused on skills, transport and economic development.

“The Combined Authority should be set up next April, no later. Its immediate priorities should be youth apprenticeships, the introduction of smartcard ticketing – like London’s Oystercard – to make bus and metro travel easier and cheaper, and support for companies particularly in growth sectors like automotive manufacturing, marine services and life sciences.

“We need to keep more of our brightest and best graduates in the North East. There need to be more internships, scholarships and innovation centres to keep the best graduates here, engaged in new and growing companies.

“The task now is to agree on a plan and implement it. There is no time to lose. The North East has great strengths – in its people, its enterprises, its public institutions, and its natural, cultural, and so many other assets. There is huge capacity for success in the future, with will and leadership.”

Greg Clark, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I strongly welcome the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Independent Economic Review. The North East is on the rise: last year it had the biggest gain in private sector employment of any region in the United Kingdom and was one of the country’s magnets for foreign investment.

“This report lays out clearly the potential of the area to achieve more. In particular the proposed Combined Authority would massively strengthen the force wielded by the area as it competes nationally and internationally for good jobs.

“The Government has said that we will devolve resources and responsibility to places that can demonstrate credible and compelling economic leadership. This report shows how the North East can do that.

“It is an excellent basis for me to negotiate a Local Growth Deal in which the government, local businesses and civic leaders regardless of politics work together to make the North East attract and grow jobs and prosperity.”

Lord Michael Heseltine said: I very much welcome this report from the North East Independent Economic Review, chaired by Lord Adonis.

“It reflects the same hunger for local people to lead the regeneration of their economies that Sir Terry Leahy and I found on Merseyside and I was privileged to witness in like recent report by the Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. The government now has a unique opportunity to unleash this energy across the 39 LEPs that make up the English economy. As the Prime Minister has said, “we are all in this together”!

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “The report and the exceptional commitment of the review team led by Lord Adonis have given us a route to to be more globally competitive, create more jobs, and ensure that all of the people in the North East have an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from economic growth.”

“The report provides the framework and creates the clear, cohesive strategy to propel long-term growth in the North East we need to channel future investment most effectively.”

A conference will be held in the summer to bring together the North East area’s businesses from all sectors, public sector, universities and voluntary organisations to give their response to the report. Lord Adonis and the economic review team will be at the event.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

Notes to editors:

In the Government’s Response to Lord Heseltine’s Report it said:

2.4 The Government wants every place to be able to fulfil its potential for growth, unleashing enterprise and bringing jobs and prosperity to communities. The first wave of City Deals has shown what places can do if Whitehall gives them control. Local areas will get new levers to help them do this, but they must also take responsibility for decisions, and look beyond narrow local authority boundaries to plan strategically over true functional economic geographies. They must innovate and take calculated risks based on their knowledge of how their local economy functions and where the opportunities for future growth lie.

2.5 The Government therefore proposes to devolve resource and responsibility to those places which can demonstrate credible and compelling economic leadership. Local areas will receive powers and budgets previously held nationally in order to pursue local priorities, and local leaders will take on accountability for economic outcomes. Funding and flexibility will reflect the quality of the strategic proposals put forward by LEPs, the commitment of local authorities to work more efficiently and effectively across the LEP area, as well as local need.

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