North East LEP Chief Economist Chris Milne gives his reaction to The Budget delivered today by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
“We welcome in particular the Chancellor’s announcement of £15m for a national institute for smart data innovation to be based in Newcastle working with partners across the region and nationally,” said Chris.
“The North East has a strong profile as one of the UK’s leading digital economic hubs. This new national institute will provide a focus for business to unleash the huge innovation potential in digital data which will deliver improvements to business and public services.
“This is a huge opportunity for the region to provide leadership and skills, ideas and resources in a global market worth $125bn annually.
“We welcome in principle the Chancellor’s £20m commitment to a new Northern Powerhouse School Strategy to improve classroom performance, but we await the fine detail included in tomorrow’s education white paper to see what benefits this will bring for the North East.
“Investment in transport infrastructure – the A66 and A69 in particular – is also crucial for the growth of the North East economy and we will benefit from the £75m pot which the Government has allocated to develop the business cases for a number of transport projects.
“Regional connectivity remains an important issue for the North East and we will also benefit from broader connectivity projects to the M62.
“We welcome a range of other announcements that will have a positive impact for businesses, entrepreneurs and the income of households.”
Chris also commented on today’s Labour Market Statistics.
“It is encouraging to see continued improvement in the North East labour market following last month’s figures,” he said.
“They show that over the last quarter, the North East has seen the UK’s highest increase in people in work, the largest fall in unemployment and the biggest reduction in economically inactive people.
“The employment rate now stands at a record 70.6%, the highest rate going back to 1992.”