Calls for more help for firms

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THE North East could generate an extra £1.35billion and create 6,000 jobs if more firms were able to tap into public sector contracts, say business leaders.

A report by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and law firm Dickinson Dees estimates that up to £3.5billion is spent by the region’s public sector each year to buy goods and services.

It represents a “significant chunk” of the £41billion public sector economy, two-thirds of which is made up in wages.

The NECC believes that involving more private sector suppliers from the region would make the supply chain more efficient.

Director of policy Ross Smith said: “The size of the public sector within the North East means that it forms an important part of the market for many businesses in the region.

“However, many perceive barriers reducing the opportunity to compete for public sector contracts. With public spending in the North East seven per cent higher than the UK average, the opportunities from selling to the public sector are potentially greater in this region.

“If we make more opportunities open to firms here, it will also bolster their chances of winning similar work outside the region.”