Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), today gave his reaction to the Budget delivered by Chancellor Phillip Hammond.
“This is a Budget that recognises that we face a range of challenges but is focussed on preparing the economy for the future.
“The Chancellor has prioritised actions which can strengthen the UK’s competitiveness through innovation, skills and investment in housing and infrastructure.
“I fully support devolution to the North East and welcome today’s announcement by the Chancellor, with details that the three North of the Tyne local authorities have struck a devolution deal with Government.
“The business community in the North East wants devolution of finance and powers from central Government to the North East and would like these devolved funds to cover as much of the North East as possible. Decision-making by locally elected politicians for local people is important.
“However, the door must be left open for all of the other local authorities in the North East who may decide in the future that they would also like to be part of a devolution deal.
“Any deal for the North East region should have the delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan at its heart and be focused on boosting economic growth and creating more and better jobs in the North East.”
“We welcome the £337m investment in the Tyne and Wear Metro system. I personally wrote to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget to call for this funding.
“The strategic importance of the Tyne and Wear Metro to the local economy of the North East of England cannot be over-stated. It carries up to 40 million passengers each year, two thirds of whom are travelling for work or education and is a significant employer in its own right.
“The Transforming Cities Fund, which will invest £1.7bn into transport infrastructure and the commitments to develop the next generation of 5G technologies, were also positive. The North East can play a key role in testing and delivering 5G for the UK.
I also welcome the £20m to help further education colleges prepare for the new T levels.
“I was encouraged that the OBR has confirmed we can expect to see ongoing jobs growth across the UK. The North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) has set an ambition of generating more and better jobs for the North East and we hope today’s Budget will create opportunities to support that.
View a fuller budget overview from the North East LEP here.