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John McCabe. Photo: North East England Chamber of Commerce

North East Chamber welcomes Autumn Statement

One of the North East’s top business leaders this afternoon welcomed the prospect of a new devolution deal for the region held out in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement:

‘The government’s renewed commitment to an extended devolution deal for the north of the region is…welcome,’ said John McCabe, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce. ‘This could play a pivotal role in levelling up the North East. The right deal will be an important win for our region and we hope this is confirmed very soon.’

In other comment on the Autumn Statement, Mr McCabe said: ‘We know the Chancellor has had difficult decisions to make with this budget. He was right to focus on stability and protecting the most vulnerable households and businesses. This is what our members have called for and the government appears to have listened.

There are some important commitments on public spending, infrastructure and benefits rising in-line with inflation. The government’s business rate proposals support both the hospitality and retail sector and local councils – this is a good first step.

‘But energy costs continue to be a key concern for our members. Now that the details of the government’s energy bill relief scheme have been published we will make sure we engage to get vital support for businesses in our region. Taken together these interventions may help the North East weather some of the biggest economic headwinds in 2023.’

He added: ‘However, as the OBR forecasts confirm Britain is now in or nearing recession, it’s vital the government continues to work with us to stimulate business growth and international trade, ensure we’re meeting future skills demand and help build a more open and inclusive economy. These are the Chamber’s priorities and we will continue to make this case on behalf of our members across the North East.’

Local Enterprise Partnership

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), said: ‘For the North East, we await to hear more about our devolution deal, Shared Prosperity Funding (European funding replacement) and the revised investment zones proposal.’

She said: ‘Jeremy Hunt’s priority was to stabilise the economy and protect the most vulnerable at a time when the economic prospects look bleak for a sustained period. The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) have confirmed that the UK is in a recession.

‘The changes to tax and spending will impact across people in most income bands in the region and reduce money available for public services. We welcome the commitment to continue to support our residents through the energy price cap.

‘For businesses and the economy, the continuing commitment to capital and research expenditure is welcome, as is the additional support to people in the labour force given OBR predictions of a rise in unemployment.’