North East 'will be hit harder than any other region by no-deal Brexit,' claims professor
A no-deal Brexit could hit the North East harder than any other region of the UK, it has been claimed.
The stark warning was made by business experts in County Durham, who cautioned the continuing uncertainty over the divorce from the EU was already having an impact.
And, according to the findings of the County Durham Economic Partnership (CDEP), the eventual exit, whenever it happens, is likely to have a ‘major impact long term’.
Professor Brian Tanner said: “We cannot avoid the Brexit issue and the estimates I have from the economists and statisticians [at Durham County Council] is that a no deal Brexit is likely to have a bigger impact on the North East than any other part of the UK.
“From anecdotal conversations with business leaders in the county, companies which are European-owned are indicating they are working on a no deal scenario and planning and investment is being made on that basis.”
Prof Tanner, chairman of the CDEP, was speaking at a meeting of Durham County Council’s Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee on June 27.
Councillors heard the county’s employment rate continues to perform strongly at 74.4 per cent, just behind the national average and ahead of the 2030 target.
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However, there is concern about levels of disposable income, with Professor Tanner suggesting focus should be shifted from creating jobs to creating ‘better’ or ‘more fulfilling’ jobs.
Coun Stuart Dunn questioned whether current high employment levels could be masking workers in ‘multiple jobs just to make ends meet’.
The meetings heard the government was ‘long overdue’ on consultation for plans for a UK ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ to replace existing EU funding.
Professor Tanner also raised concerns about the state of careers advice in the county’s schools.
He said; “Careers advice in schools is a distress, central funding for it has disappeared and now schools are responsible for it themselves when budgets are already squeezed.”
He added: “We’ve attempted in the past to get business leaders into schools to provide mentoring programmes, but we’re always struggling against timetables and the amount of time available for this type of activity.”