‘Autumn Statement must support growth of Sunderland’s economy’ – North East sends message to George Osborne

Aerial picture showing the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
Aerial picture showing the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
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CHANCELLOR George Osborne has been challenged to help the North East play its part in the economic recovery in tomorrow’s autumn statement. KEVIN CLARK reports.

THE autumn statement serves as a half-term report for the Government, in which the Chancellor updates MPs on the success – or otherwise – of the last Budget and offers a vision of the issues likely to feature in the next one.

Mr Osborne will outline his taxation and spending plans, based on the economic projections provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The North East Chamber of Commerce has put forward three key priorities it says the Chancellor must address – stimulating employment, increasing investment and boosting regional strengths.

Chief executive James Ramsbotham said the Government was failing to make the most of all the region had to offer.

“The Government has repeatedly emphasised its continuing commitment to rebalancing the UK economy. We want the North East to play a key role in achieving this, and the Autumn Statement must support the growth of the region’s economy.

“We have been saying for quite some time now that the North East is not a problem that needs to be solved, but an unrealised asset which should be developed further. By backing the things that we do well and removing barriers to growth, we could be delivering so much more.

“Our submission calls for measures to build on North East strengths, stimulate employment and stimulate investment.

“According to our own Quarterly Economic Surveys, businesses in the North East are recruiting more people, seeing rises in sales and orders and investing more in their staff and companies than at any time since the recession began. They are performing admirably and driving the regional recovery forward. It is now up to the Government to match this effort.”

The chamber’s submission urges the Government to postpone further increases to business rates and reliefs and boost the region’s exporters, such as Sunderland’s Nissan plant, by reforming air passenger duty and fuel duty.

It also wants to see more incentives to stimulate employment and investment and changes to employer National Insurance Contributions for young people. Mr Ramsbotham said: “The last Budget and Spending Review included significant backing for the region in form of a string of important infrastructure projects, but we require more.

“Backing our submission would go a long way to ensuring the North East can finally reach its potential and once again become the industrial powerhouse at the forefront of the national recovery.”