Sunderland among fastest for business growth in UK, finds study

BRIDGE PLANS: Leader of Sunderland Council Paul Watson.
BRIDGE PLANS: Leader of Sunderland Council Paul Watson.
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A PARTNERSHIP which was set up to drive Wearside forward is achieving growth at one of the fastest rates in the UK.

The Office for National Statistics compiled a study on the performances of every local enterprise partnership in the country.

It showed that, in 2013 the North Eastern LEP – which covers Wearside, County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, and South Tyneside – had the fourth highest growth rate in the country at 3.3 per cent.

It also ranked fifth best in the country for GVA growth per head on average between 2003 and 2013 with a growth rate of 3 per cent.

The study was based on each LEP’s Gross Value Added (GVA) performance which is the growth that an area has in its economic output relative to changes in the size of the population.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, welcomed the results and said: “The clue to the success of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership is in the name.

“This is a partnership with the local authorities, business representatives, and the educational sector, and it’s a fruitful one.

“We’ve had support from the LEP here in Sunderland as we look to our new bridge and further investment in the city’s transport and infrastructure. It’s this partnership work that helps with improvements and investments that benefit all of us.”

Chris Milne, who is the chief economist for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Today’s figures from the ONS show that the North East LEP area has seen strong growth in both productivity and GVA over the past year. The regional economy is continuing to grow following the general recession which affected growth rates from 2008.

“Growth in GVA per head during 2013 and over the previous 10 years has been amongst the highest rates in the country at 3.3 per cent and 3.0 per cent respectively.”

Chris added: “Yesterday’s employment figures, also from the ONS, showed strong growth of employment in the automotive, service, health, professional, scientific and technical sectors in the past year.

“These are high value sectors providing not only more but also better, more highly skilled, jobs for the region’s workforce. Many organisations within these fields are based in the South Tyneside and Sunderland areas. It’s good news because the region needs these types of high skilled jobs to drive greater productivity.

“The North East has also seen strong export performance in recent years and is the only net exporting region in England.”

Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are partnerships in England between local authorities and businesses. They were created in 2011 and their role is to help shape local economic priorities and undertake activities to drive local economic growth and the creation of jobs.

A breakdown of the statistics shows Greater Manchester, the Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, South East Midlands and London had the LEPs with the best performing growth rates in 2013.