Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.40.34THE North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) has set out measures needed in the Chancellor’s emergency Budget to enable North East businesses to deliver more for the UK economy.

In a letter to George Osborne, the region’s largest business membership association has highlighted the steps needed from the new Government.

They include a new fund to follow on from the Regional Growth Fund, which will give growing firms access to investment over life of this Parliament.

A commitment to extend the Annual Investment Allowance with a more stable, long-term approach will give manufacturers in the region further confidence to invest.

NECC has also urged the Chancellor to address long-standing concerns over Air Passenger Duty and Empty Property Rates, which hold back potential growth in the North East.

NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham said in the submission: “The North East remains an under-utilised asset for UK plc and policy should be designed to leverage our region’s strengths to far greater effect.

“The potential of the region’s businesses is constrained by a number of issues which we feel can be addressed in this Budget.

“We want to stimulate more strategic investment by businesses in the region. There is currently uncertainty about what will follow from the Regional Growth Fund, and the Chancellor should make that clear now.

“We would like to see funds available that focus on investment needs of SMEs, with clear decision making within the region, and continuity over five years.

“Manufacturers in particular would also benefit from confidence that the current level of Annual Investment Allowance will stay in place over the same period after too much chopping and changing in the past.”

Mr Ramsbotham told the Chancellor: “Our region is uniquely exposed to tax changes in Scotland. Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a prime example of how devolving fiscal powers to Scotland will impact upon the North East economy.

“We strongly urge the government to act now to give confidence that North East flights will remain competitive in future years.”

Empty Property Rates currently hamper investment in industrial property. Mr Ramsbotham said: “The shortage of available property is partly down to the onerous penalty that will fall upon owners should the premises become vacant. This was designed to address a problem much more prevalent in the South East than the North East, and hinders economic rebalancing.”

The NECC submission urges Government to follow through on infrastructure commitments on the A1 and A19 as fast as possible, as well as delivering national projects vital to the North East including expansion at Heathrow Airport.

It also calls for support for new energy infrastructure in the North East, particularly carbon capture and storage in Tees Valley.

NECC has re-stated its position on the need for business rates reform, which is currently subject to a major review, and that a new plan for skills funding reform needs to better suited to SMEs than proposals put forward by the last Government.

The Chancellor George Osborne will announce his Budget on Wednesday 8 July.