Barclays boss unveils new £500million fund to boost North East business

A new £500million growth fund for North East business has been launched.

Friday, 1st June 2018, 9:18 am
Updated Friday, 1st June 2018, 10:02 am
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson and Jes Staley (centre) launch the Barclays recruitment scheme with apprentices Natasha Lackenby and Francessca Teasdale.

The new fund is available from Barclays as part of the bank’s commitment to support the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative to inject investment into SMEs across the region with favourable terms for manufacturing, transport and logistics companies, helping them to grow and create new jobs.

Launching the fund on a visit to the region, Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley said: "Barclays has been helping businesses across the North to succeed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, when we financed the world’s first steam locomotive passenger railway between Stockton and Darlington.

"Today, we face new economic challenges and opportunities posed by the digital revolution, the growth in competition from emerging markets, and of course, Brexit.

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"The Northern Powerhouse is an initiative which, if delivered, would help the whole country to meet that challenge and take those economic opportunities. That is why I’m delighted to announce our £500 million Northern Powerhouse Growth Fund, enabling businesses across the North to invest in jobs and growth.

"As the UK prepares for Brexit, it’s vitally important that businesses, civic leaders and Government work together to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. That means supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, but it also means providing more ways into high quality work."

The new fund was announced as Jes Staley visited Thornton Brothers Limited, in Ashington.

Later, he met with Barclays apprentices at the bank’s contact centre in Doxford International where he unveiled a pilot scheme for new retail entry roles in the bank’s Sunderland and Liverpool contact centres to be focused towards apprenticeships first.

"We’ve discovered at Barclays that the ‘can-do’ attitude our apprentices have means they are excellent at helping our customers and clients," he said.

"We want more people to have the life-changing career opportunity that a quality apprenticeship provides.

Irene Lucas, CEO of Sunderland City Council, said: "We are passionate in Sunderland about the opportunities that apprenticeships can provide as one of the most effective routes to permanent employment.

"We have many great examples across retail, advanced manufacturing and of course financial and customer services. None more so than Barclays whose commitment to providing high quality apprenticeships contributes to our reputation as one of the most highly skilled productive workforces in the world.

“We value highly our relationship with businesses like Barclays and have worked closely with them to support their growth in the city over many years. We look forward to continuing to support them in this exciting next step for the organisation.”

Francessca Teasdale, a Barclays apprentice based in Doxford International Business Park, said: "Barclays is known for being a good employer and having lots of room for progression and development, which is why I decided to apply for an apprenticeship online, and the rest is history.

"I’m earning while learning, and I’ve formed great relationships with my peers and colleagues.

"To anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship, I’d say go for it. You’ll have amazing qualifications, a career and friends for life."