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Chamber Sets Out Urgent Priorities Ahead of Spending Review


North East England Chamber of Commerce has stressed the importance of getting clarity on EU trading post Brexit and the need for substantial infrastructure investment, ahead of the Government’s Spending Review.

In his letter to the Chancellor Chamber chief executive, James Ramsbotham also made clear the information on economic programmes such as future regional development funding through a planned Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) was so poor it was ‘almost laughable’.

He said: “This is a critical time for our economy. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is causing demonstrable harm to business confidence and performance and is resulting in delayed or cancelled investment. This harm is being compounded by the Government’s willingness to embrace ‘No Deal’ as an acceptable outcome.

“We remain steadfast in our opinion that ‘No Deal’ will be hugely damaging to the economy of the UK as a whole and to North East England in particular. The Treasury’s own analysis has shown us to be the region most exposed to any negative consequences of Brexit. The Spending Review is therefore an opportunity to both improve the resilience of our economy and to make good on your Party’s manifesto commitment to close the performance gaps that exist between different regions.

“We do not believe that the North East is a problem to be solved. It is an asset which, with the right support and investment, can deliver so much more for the country.

“Constraints are placed on the growth of our economy by unreliable, inefficient and outdated infrastructure. Even in an increasingly digital economy, our businesses rely on physical connections to access markets, customers and staff. Large scale investment in transport infrastructure will pay dividends in terms of growth and productivity.

Government must commit to the funding and rapid completion of both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR). However, problems with existing rail infrastructure must not be overlooked. We call on you to back the Chamber’s Fast Track East Coast campaign for much needed investment in the East Coast Mainline. Within the next spending period, Network Rail must be mandated to address capacity issues on a vital artery for the country.”