• Sat. May 25th, 2024

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NECC Lobbies for Better Business Support

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 09.18.52The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) has urged the Chancellor to tackle key issues affecting the region including the need for greater clarity on the Northern Powerhouse initiative, ahead of his Budget announcement.

NECC, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Jonathan Walker, set out the business demands in a pre-budget submission. He said: “Our Manifesto for 2016 clearly details the policy changes we believe can make a real impact to the economic success of our region.

“The North East has a huge role to play in making the Northern Powerhouse a success, yet we are still to see a clear strategy for boosting the economy of the North of England.

“As part of this, we need greater support to grow exports, fair reform of business rates and more detail about how the Apprenticeship levy will translate into benefits for all businesses.”

The Chancellor was also asked to recognise the consistently positive balance of trade in the North East and its untapped potential.    It was proposed that an increase in UKTI budget and enhanced flexibility to spend at a regional level on support such as trade missions would help members grow exports. The Chamber argued this change would enable the delivery of a more tailored approach which would be particularly beneficial to SMEs wanting to access new markets.

In terms of inward investment the North East also needs more support to attract overseas businesses as the ‘UK First’ approach has not served the region well in terms of articulating its benefits.

A further demand was access to basic utilities which are cheap, reliable and secure.  Jonathan Walker described the Government’s approach to energy policy as ‘lamentable’ and saw little signs of improvement.

With regard to business rates NECC welcomed the moves to incentivise local authorities to grow their business base.  However it warned there was potential to harm the North East economy if there were no safeguards in place as some North East Councils have relatively low levels of business rate income and, as a result, little scope to reduce rates.

The submission acknowledges the Regional Growth Fund has been a successful investment vehicle and helped many businesses make long term funding decisions to help them expand and access new markets.  Future certainty of this model is vital for the North East so local programmes can continue.

Jonathan Walker said: “We challenge the Government to recognise and strengthen the role of the North East in rebalancing the economy and contributing to the UK’s economic growth.”

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