Real action needs to be taken if the Government’s ambitious rhetoric of reinvigorating regional economies in the north is to become a reality, according to Alex Cunningham, as the latest statistics reveal that the sustained period of sluggish growth among businesses in the North East continues and concerns in the manufacturing sector are growing.
Labour’s Stockton North MP was speaking following publication of the Quarterly Economic Survey by the North East Chamber of Commerce, which revealed that the pace of growth among North East firms fell again during in the fourth quarter of 2015, with a slowdown in the number of UK sales and UK orders alongside a drop-off in projections of future profitability.
“The falling rate of growth across the North East confirms what many already knew – that the Government is failing to deliver on promises to restore confidence to businesses throughout the region.
“While the survey shows that North East businesses continue to grow, the growth rate has slowed so much that overall scores are at their lowest rate for three years. And with every indicator being down on the same quarter in 2014, businesses are losing confidence across the board and in the manufacturing sector in particular.
“Grandiose promises to create a northern powerhouse are steadily unravelling, with the continued threat to withdraw from the European Union hanging over businesses and causing great uncertainty while placing unnecessary hurdles in the path of trade. These fears are only made worse by the deepening cuts to public expenditure, with local authorities again being hit hard and government departments once more being subjected to significant cuts in funding.
“While there are positives that can be taken, the wider context is extremely worrying. Not only does the North East again have the highest unemployment rate in the country, planned infrastructure investment is the lowest of any English region and dedicated business funding is at risk of being snatched away.
“Despite talking a good game, the Government has failed to convert rhetoric into reality. If Ministers are truly committed to narrowing the north-south divide and rebalancing the economy, much more needs to be done to restore confidence and spur investment.
“With the huge job losses experienced across the North East in the past six months, the first step must recognise the region as a special case and deliver the sustained investment in business development, vital infrastructure and communications that are desperately needed.”