Give north a chance, say businesses

NECC director of policy Ross Smith.
NECC director of policy Ross Smith.

Nine chambers of commerce representing more than 16,000 businesses, who employ more than 1.4million workers across the north of England, have produced a joint assessment of the considerable opportunities the Northern Powerhouse can provide the UK economy.

The assessment comes as part of the joint submission by the chambers to the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which will be announced in November.

Ross Smith, director of policy from the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “The north of England’s economy represents a quarter of the whole of the UK. However, for several decades the north’s economy has underperformed.

“In this submission, we urge the Chancellor to take the opportunity now to change the rhetoric and start a meaningful conversation.

“The UK economy is presently in a much weaker position that it could be and the capacity clearly exists within our regions to deliver a significant increase to UK GDP.

“Unlocking this opportunity should be a national economic priority and not left in a ‘regional policy’ niche.

“We have produced the priorities we believe will enhance the Northern Powerhouse initiative and it is time to see these priorities met.

“As a group of chambers of commerce, we will work closely together to ensure that businesses across the north lie at the heart of the changes to come.

“We want the Northern Powerhouse to become a reality and we are committed to playing our part to make it happen. We are willing to work with Government to develop these in greater detail in the weeks ahead.”

The NECC held its 200th anniversary gala dinner last night at which Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP was the guest speaker. It was not only the largest business dinner in the region’s history, but the highest-profile event in the North East’s business calendar in 2015.