Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), today gave her reaction to the Budget delivered by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
“The Chancellor has set out a Budget targeting a wide range of issues using the extra cash available as a result of lower than expected spending and higher tax receipts.
“The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) sets out a challenging growth environment over the next few years, although expects further growth in employment. The Budget is based on a scenario of a smooth Brexit, which is important for the North East. But the Chancellor has set out plans for a second Budget should there be a no deal and has provided more resources for departments to prepare.
“Alongside big political priorities on Universal Credit and mental health, in this environment he has aimed to build confidence amongst businesses. We welcome a number of positive amendments to business taxes, the introduction of additional business support services and action to address the costs of apprenticeships.
“Increasing productivity through investment in infrastructure, new technologies and innovation, skills and housing continues to be a strong focus and we welcome the extension of the National Productivity Investment Fund and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; key resources for delivery of the Industrial Strategy.
“For the North East, the extension of the Transforming Cities Fund and the roads budget offers opportunities for new investment in our local transport infrastructure and road connectivity across the north.
“We are also pleased to see a group of significant technology projects where the North East has an interest, including the planned investment into the Made Smarter programme on industrial digitalisation, the Stephenson Challenge, which focuses on electric motor technology and has been led by partners from the North East, and the confirmed extension to the resources for the North East Digital Catapult Centre. As the Borderland project moves forward the commitment to improving full fibre internet connectivity to rural areas should offer an opportunity for the North East.”