A look at the Labour leader’s plans for the North East

Author - Marianne O'Sullivan

Date published:

The Chamber’s latest column for The Journal by Marianne O’Sullivan, policy manager at the Chamber

As you may have seen, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently spoke at a Chamber event about his plan for the North East’s economy.

His speech focused on reforming the planning system to allow key infrastructure such as national grid connections, transport links and housing to be developed.

The importance of investing in infrastructure has been raised in our recently published Levelling up the North East report, with Chamber Partner members discussing what the region needs from the levelling up agenda to reduce regional inequalities.

Investment in transport infrastructure, including the Leamside Line, was highlighted by Womble Bond Dickinson in the report to connect people to job opportunities and benefit our town centres. Increased investment in affordable housing and options like shared ownership was highlighted by Thirteen Group and Lloyds Banking Group to increase access to home ownership.

Sir Keir also raised the importance of skills linking to Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) and creating Technical Excellence Colleges.

The Chamber has produced two LSIPs for the North East and will continue to work with education providers and local partners to ensure recommendations are implemented.

As part of our submission ahead of the Autumn Statement, we have highlighted the need for flexibility within the apprenticeship levy to encourage an uptake in apprentice numbers and investment in further education. For every £1 invested in further education there is a return of £20 into local economies, demonstrating the impact this could bring to the North East.

Finally, Sir Kier also focused on the need for a modern industrial strategy to help provide stability for business investment, highlighting gigafactories, hydrogen and offshore wind as key opportunities for the North East.

Evidence from our quarterly economic survey supports the need to increase business investment. Business confidence has improved compared to last year however economic conditions and reduced cashflow has led to reduced investment by businesses. Incentives and support to encourage business investment would be welcome.

Investment in the region’s energy sector will be crucial. The Chamber’s recently published Stronger, Fairer North East strategy focusses on a green transition and the positive role the North East can play in a transition to a low carbon economy.

The Chamber’s submission ahead of the Autumn Statement highlighted the need for a cross sector infrastructure strategy by 2025 to encourage the further growth of green jobs in the North East.

We will look ahead to the Autumn Statement and continue to ensure the voices of our members are heard.

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