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Our Economy 2020 paints a mixed picture of the North East economy’s performance  

Today, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published the latest edition of Our Economy, an annual publication which examines the performance of the North East economy and how it is changing over time.

This year’s report has also looked in more depth at how the economy varies across different geographic areas within the region.

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East LEP, explains: “This year, Our Economy is being published at a time of immense change and it provides a baseline showing the performance of the North East economy before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s report provides data and evidence that we and our partners can use to position the North East for recovery, as we work to bring more and better jobs to our region.”

Each year, Our Economy reviews the North East’s performance across a range of indicators. This is the third year that Our Economy has been published and this year’s report paints a mixed picture of the region’s economic performance.

Our Economy shows that the gap between the North East and the rest of England, excluding London, has widened on a number of indicators, including the value of the goods and services produced per head, employment rate and productivity rate.

In contrast, areas of progress include increasing expenditure on R&D by businesses, increasing proportion of our population qualified to degree-level and above, increased employment in science, research, engineering and technology roles, improved access to superfast broadband and 4G, and increased public expenditure on transport.

The evidence provided by Our Economy is used to inform the work of the North East LEP and partners across the region in delivering the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the roadmap for increasing economic growth in the North East.

Victoria Sutherland added: “What we can see in the report suggests that, even before COVID-19 began to impact the North East, there was a need to do more to grow and develop our economy. 

“Going forward, the focus of our efforts must be to ensure that every part of our region is able to contribute to and benefit from efforts to improve the performance of our economy.”

Our Economy is available to download on the North East Data Hub website and a short video summarising the findings can be viewed here.


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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.

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North East LEP seeks new Chair for its Board

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is seeking a high profile and influential business person with a connection to the North East as the next Chair of its Board.

The current chair, Andrew Hodgson OBE, plans to step down as soon as a replacement chair is recruited.  Andrew has spent nine years on the Board, working tirelessly on behalf of the region.

The Non-Executive Director position is being advertised nationally and comes with significant public profile, responsibility and accountability to the North East community.

The high-profile business leader will need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the economic challenges faced.

The North East LEP is one of 38 LEPs in the country and sets the economic agenda for the region to promote and develop economic growth across the North East. Its geographic patch covers the local authority areas of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Heidi Mottram, Vice Chair of the North East LEP’s Board and the CEO of Northumbrian Water, said: “Andrew has been a superb Chair since he was appointed in 2016 and has truly been committed to making our area an even better place to live and work.

“During Andrew’s time as Chair we have become respected nationally as one of the leading and most effective LEPs in the country. On behalf of the Board and wider LEP community and partners, I’d like to offer our thanks for his service and wish him success in his next challenge.

“However, Andrew’s departure creates an exciting opportunity for someone equally experienced, well-connected, dynamic and committed to the region to help us achieve our ambitions for the future. We need someone who is prepared to be a visible and an active cheerleader for the North East across the region, the Northern Powerhouse area and the UK – and if that sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you so please do get in touch.”

More information on the role can be found here.

To apply please send your CV and a statement, of no more than two pages, to the North East LEP’s Chief Executive Officer, Helen Golightly at [email protected] . Your statement should include:

  • How you would contribute to the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan and in turn, support the region’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19
  • Examples of how you have influenced strategic decision making
  • Any skills/experience/achievements that may be useful for the role and any particular areas of interest you have.

This vacancy is now closed (as of 12 noon, Monday 8 June 2020).



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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – January 2020

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), 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 August to October 2019 quarter.

In addition, Annual Population Survey data for the period October 2018 to September 2019 has also been released.  This dataset is available at the LEP-level and is used to measure progress against four of the North East LEP’s targets.

Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland said, “Today’s labour market statistics show a mixed picture.

“Looking first at the regional labour market statistics, this shows that there has been a small decline in the number of people employed across the North East region over the last three months, with 2,000 fewer people in work in September to November than between June to August.”

“Over the same period, unemployment increased by 5,000, whilst the number of people that are outside the labour market – those who are not actively seeking work for a wide range of reasons, including full-time study, looking after family and home, disability and ill-health, and retirement – has decreased by 3,000.

“As we have previously highlighted, the last year has been characterised by a high degree of fluctuation with labour market conditions improving in some quarters and deteriorating in others. This fluctuation has been observed in all regions and nations of the UK, but the North East appears to have been particularly hard hit with the largest increase in unemployment rate over the last year. The North East is also one of only three English regions to have seen a decrease in its employment rate for 16 to 64-year olds.

“Looking at longer term trends, the North East LEP set itself a target of increasing the number of jobs in its area by 100,000 between 2014 and 2024, and for 70% of jobs created to be ‘better jobs’, defined as managerial, professional and technical roles. Today’s data covers the period October 2018 to September 2019 and shows that the number of jobs in the North East has increased by 73,100 since our baseline of April 2013 to March 2014. The increase in managerial, professional and technical roles has been 73,900 – meaning that all of the jobs growth has been in these ‘better jobs’ whilst there has been a small decrease in other jobs areas such as administrative and retail. There has been particularly strong growth in managerial, professional and technical jobs over the last year, with an increase of 24,500.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver more and better jobs for the region through the Strategic Economic Plan. We will work to secure commitment from the new government to unlock investment to allow the region to create new opportunities for businesses and residents.”

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North East LEP appoints three new members to its Board

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) has announced three new appointments to its Board.

Founder and MD for Fusion PR Creative, John McCabe, and TSG Marine Operations Director, Erika Leadbeater, replace outgoing Board members David Land and Farooq Hakim. Carol Botten, Chief Executive of VONNE (Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East) also joins the North East LEP Board to ensure the region’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) is better represented.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “As well as playing an active role in helping deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan, our Board represents the views and opinions of the North East’s public, private, education and VCSE sectors.

“They help ensure we work in the best interest of the region and deliver our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

“On behalf of everyone at the North East LEP, I’d like to welcome Erika, Carol and John to the Board. They are all hugely respected in their fields and their contribution to our work in growing the North East economy will be invaluable.”

John McCabe is the current chair of Gateshead College and immediate past president of the North East England Chamber of Commerce. He has held senior positions at some of the North East’s largest organisations and launched strategic communications agency, Fusion, in 2013.

John said: “I hope my experience of working in and with businesses large and small, of setting up my own business and of negotiating at the highest levels of government will be of value to colleagues across the North East LEP and to the wider region.

“The new government has made a number of eye-catching commitments to our region and the North East LEP will have a key role to play in ensuring these are met, enabling economic growth and ensuring more people in the North East can achieve their full potential.

“The North East LEP has an exciting agenda and I’m really looking forward to playing my part in its delivery.”

Erika Leadbeater is Operations Director at South Tyneside-based TSG Marine, which delivers marine access services to the offshore energy sector. Erika began her career as a private practice solicitor specialising in shipping and the carriage of goods before joining TSG Marine in 2013. Erika is an advocate for small businesses and a member of the UK Government’s SME Advisory Board.

Erika said: “I know from experience that the North East is a great place to live and work. In fact, when our business was getting started, we chose to base ourselves in the region due to its strategic location, the skills of local people and the support for small businesses. I am honoured to be joining the team at the North East LEP to support the great work being undertaken to grow the economy, create jobs and promote the region.”

Carol Botten has been CEO of VONNE since September 2018 following four years as Deputy CEO. With almost 25 years’ experience in the voluntary and community sector, Carol is passionate about supporting the sector’s leadership and governance capabilities and developing new programmes and projects to increase organisations’ sustainability and resilience.

She is a member of the North East Skills Advisory Panel, as well as a member of Northern Powergrid’s Social Issues Expert Group and Stakeholder Panel, the North East Brexit Group and the Cabinet Office’s National Leadership programme.

Carol said: “I am delighted to have been selected to represent the VCSE sector on the North East Local Enterprise Partnership Board.

“I have worked closely with the organisation for a number of years as a member of the Skills Advisory Panel and on recent refreshes of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, so I have a strong understanding of the LEP, its role and key strategies for the region.

“I look forward to developing that relationship further and advocating for the role that VCSE organisations have to play in the economic development of the region and to encourage an inclusive approach, to ensure all communities and individuals can benefit from economic development activities.”

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) is a public, private and education sector partnership that works with businesses, partners and stakeholders in the region to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan, growing a more productive, inclusive and sustainable regional economy.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics – December 2019

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), 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 August to October 2019 quarter.

Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland said, “Today’s labour market statistics for the North East region are a disappointing end to the year.

“The number of people in employment has declined by 10,000 compared to the previous quarter and by 14,000 over the year.

“Looking at the decline over the quarter in more detail, it’s notable that this decline has been driven by fewer men in employment – with 16,000 fewer in work – whilst the number of women in work has increased by 6,000.

“Unemployment has increased by 15,000 over the last three months and by 9,000 over the year. The unemployment rate is now 6.1% and is the highest of all UK regions.

“2019 has been characterised by slower employment growth across the whole of the UK than in previous years and by fluctuation and variation across the country. The North East has been affected by the uncertainty in the economy.”

Commenting on the statistics, Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “2020 will be a key year for the North East. The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver more and better jobs for the region through the Strategic Economic Plan. We will work to secure commitment from the new government to unlock investment to allow the region to create new opportunities for businesses and residents.”

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership seeks digital partner… In conversation with Jen Robson, Head of Communications

As a public, private and education partnership set up to drive forward economic growth in the region, having an integrated communications strategy is key to the success of the North East LEP.

Digital communications forms a central part of our strategy. We are about to embark on a procurement process to find a partner who can work with us  to deliver best practice digital communications that raises the bar and delivers our objectives. We have a clear ambition for our websites and take evaluation and insight seriously. The world in which we operate can be pretty unique – it’s fast paced, often with a high volume of actions with short deadlines – something we dream will settle, but never quite seems to.

Over the years, we’ve learnt that having an agency, that has a variety of digital-specific, inhouse services and skills, where ideas can be shared, solutions can be found and delivery can be responsive, is critical to achieving our goals.  That’s why we’re looking for a supplier who can deliver all of the following services:

  • Digital and marketing consultancy and strategy
  • Creative, web and UX design
  • Web development
  • Content production including creative, copy and film
  • Digital marketing
  • Website management and maintenance
  • Website hosting
  • Analytics, evaluation of website and digital marketing activities.

The official procurement process will start in November, but we are keen to meet potential partners and share information about our strategies, platforms and ambitions at a ‘Meet the Buyer’ pre-procurement event on Friday 25 October from 10am until 3pm at The Crowne Plaza in Newcastle.

You’ll hear from the team and a former supplier so that you can understand our requirements and what it’s like to work with us – warts and all – before you start with the paperwork. There’ll be an opportunity for question and answers and one-to-ones. It’s a chance to help shape the next steps in our procurement exercise so what we’re asking for is in line with what you can deliver.

Full details of the event are on the NEPO Portal so please do make sure you are registered at www.NEPO.org to access all the information. Hope to see you there.



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North Tyneside pupils learn what it takes to complete the Great North Run

Paul O’Neil, an Apparel Coach from Nike’s Royal Quays store in North Tyneside, worked with Churchill Community College in Wallsend to help pupils work on a project in which the science curriculum has been taught through the lens of what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. 

The project is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge programme, working with employers to apply learning to real world context to improve outcomes for students.

Year 7 pupils at Churchill Community College have been working on a project exploring what it takes for a person to complete the Great North Run. They’ve spoken to orthopaedic surgeons about the human body, they’ve met the millionth person to complete the run, and I visited the school to talk about being active and using the right running equipment to help improve performance and prevent injury.

At Nike, one of our founding principles is to help create the future of sport by supporting young people aged 4 to 14. We have a community ambassador at every store and are encouraged to get involved with the community, whether it’s working with schools or providing volunteers at the local Junior parkruns, which we do every Sunday.

This was a great opportunity to speak to the students about running and encourage them to find out more about health and keeping active. We know that children start to make choices about their life when they’re aged about 7, and if they’re active at that age, they’re far more likely to continue to be active throughout their life.

During science lessons, the pupils at Churchill Community College had been learning about nutrition, injury and the human body and I built on this by talking about how the correct equipment can help reduce the risk of injury as well as helping you to keep safe, for example by using reflective equipment at night.

We also discussed factors that help to improve performance for runners and the visit involved hands-on activities for the pupils to take part in. I talked about my role at Nike as well as some of the other careers that exist in the sector such as product design.

The pupils were so engaged and excited and I think they have got a lot out of this project. Some people learn by doing and this way of learning caters to different learning styles, allowing pupils to learn in a hands-on way and see how what they learn in school relates to the world of work and wider life.

I was invited back to the school to see a showcase of the pupils’ work, bringing together everything they’ve learnt, including their own trainer designs, and it was great to see everything they’ve learnt during the project come together.

Paul O’Neil, Apparel Coach, Nike Royal Quays.

Churchill Community College is one of three North East schools taking part in a pilot of project based learning.

Project based learning is designed to make learning in the classroom relevant to the world of work, embed careers information into the curriculum and equip young people with skills for 21st century careers.

It is part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge and delivered in partnership with Edge Future Learning. It draws on a model developed by Ford Next Generation Learning in United States who are sharing their experience and expertise.

Find out more about the Education Challenge programme.


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North East LEP ONS Regional Labour Market Statistics Reaction – October 2018

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist Victoria Sutherland gave her reaction to today’s regional labour market statistics.

“We are pleased to see that unemployment in the North East continues to fall. There are 18,000 fewer people unemployed than a year ago and 4,000 fewer than last quarter.

“Over the year, the North East’s unemployment rate has fallen from 5.8% to 4.5%, the largest decline of all UK regions and nations. This is good news for the North East’s residents.

“Over the last quarter, we have also seen an increase in employment of 6,000. This is positive news as earlier in the year we experienced some falls in employment. Such short term movements highlight the uncertainty and challenges in the global economy and we are likely to see more of these in the coming months.

“Looking at the year to June, there has been growth in employment across a number of different sectors including professional, scientific and technical activities (which includes activities in law, accountancy, consultancy, architecture and engineering amongst others) and transport and storage.

“As well as those in employment and those that are unemployed, there is a third group that is comprised of those who do not have a job but are not actively seeking work.

“The number of working age people (aged 16 to 64) in this group has increased over the quarter and the year. Whilst this may initially look like a negative trend, further analysis shows that this has been driven by an increase in people who are inactive and do not want a job (for example, because they are in education or they are looking after family or home).

“The North East LEP will continue to work with its partners to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of more and better jobs.”