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Its not easy kicking an economic football up a hill – here’s why we need levelling up.


James Rambotham's column for the Journal

I’m pretty certain people recognise the importance of having a level playing field to ensure fairness in many areas of their daily lives.

To continue the analogy in the North East we have been kicking our economic ball up a steep hill rather than a flat pitch for far too long without Government help.

The Chancellor’s Summer Statement was a perfect opportunity to tackle the regional disparities that hold our region back and enable us to score the successes of which we are more than capable.

Rishi Sunak’s measures provided short-term boosts to parts of our economy, but there was a significant lack of detail when it comes to long-term action to ‘level up’ the North East.

We have substantial unemployment compared to the rest of the country and we know Brexit is likely to hit us harder, with our track record of close EU trading. The Chancellor’s Statement didn’t provide support to tackle these issues in any meaningful way.

In my view the measures to encourage people to spend in our many tremendous hospitality and leisure businesses are also, unfortunately, not enough.This sector remains so vulnerable to further lockdowns we would like to see specific support to help them become as resilient as possible.

We recently had the benefit of hearing how South Korea had tackled getting the public back out into the world.They had issued Government coupons to spend which worked very well. However in the UK I believe reassurance on our health and safety measures is also a fundamental part of this recovery.

People need to know they can go back out into the world with confidence about their well-being. This same certainty is also needed for people in their working environment.

One of our members, Tharsus, a national British Chambers of Commerce award winner in 2019, has a pilot scheme underway to help with precisely this problem.

This advanced robotics business, has developed ‘Bump’, a cutting-edge technology system specifically designed to help keep people safe in the workplace.It is made up of a wearable device and access to data showing interactions between ‘Bumps’.

For business owners that information could be vital in the event of an outbreak of Covid-19 within their organisation.

What a great product to be able to bring to market in such as short space of time and an excellent example of nimble, North East innovative prowess.