New Tyne and Wear Metro trains, stronger powers for Tees Valley and more support for regional exporters are three main demands set out by North East England Chamber of Commerce for this week’s Budget.

The Chamber, which represents around 3,000 businesses, urges the Government to deliver a Budget which will help to create North East infrastructure improvements and funding support for businesses.

Jonathan Walker, Chamber head of policy and campaigns said: “If the Government is serious about securing the much-heralded prize of closing the gap between London and other regions, there is major work needed to change the distribution of public and private investment, and economic activity in the UK.  This is a trend that has built up over several decades. Listening to the calls of businesses in our region is essential to achieve this.

“We need substantially more support for our exporters as the country prepares to leave the European Union.  There are too few companies trading internationally while potential new markets remain unexploited.”

The Chamber is also demanding more investment in infrastructure projects including upgrades to Darlington station.  It also stressed the need for the reform of Air Passenger Duty which is essential to improve the competitiveness of the region’s airports and support air links domestically and around the world.

Many businesses need finance to grow and the letter to the Chancellor also sets out the urgent guarantees that are needed on the future business finance landscape including the successful JEREMIE programme.

The North East’s future workforce is also of vital importance to the region’s prosperity.  Jonathan Walker said: “Our businesses need a strong pipeline of talent to guarantee future growth. Despite progress in some areas, the quality of careers advice in our region remains patchy at best. Government must ensure that schools and colleges have sufficient resources to deliver a comprehensive careers information, advice, and guidance programme; aligned with the Gatsby Good Career Guidance benchmarks that has been successfully piloted in our region, and linked with local employers.”