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The Big Question

With Chancellor Jeremy Hunt preparing to deliver his Autumn Statement in late November, what measures do you believe the country’s chief financial minister should prioritise to stimulate economic growth? And, with a General Election tipped to take place next year, what areas do you believe the new Government – regardless of political colour – should set at the top of its to-do list?


Dan Martin 

Chief executive and co-founder Swarm 

As we stand in this country, we are in a vulnerable position with energy security, and the ever-increasing impact of climate change continues to ravage our world.

However, there’s a monumental level of opportunity open to us if we look at changing how we generate, move and utilise energy, for many experts believe the global energy revolution will be bigger than the internet.

In the UK, we are incredibly fortunate to have access to resources, finances and technology that can help make us frontrunners in the move to decarbonisation. 

All we need is for the Government to be bold, ambitious and relentless in its policies.

Industry and commerce will follow a sound political policy, as long as firm targets are put in place and adhered to. 

And as we continue to decarbonise, jobs in areas like services, technology, financing and manufacturing will open up, stimulating the economy and driving more investment and interest into the clean energy sector.

The Government, whichever party that is, needs to act quickly for us to have a real chance to lead the way in building a cleaner and greener future for our children.


Sarah Ledger 

Chief executive, Lexonik

Education is such a powerful tool in reducing both poverty and inequality, and, in turn, stimulating growth.

But here in the North East, we continue to see it being overlooked, or not given the due consideration it should receive.

The Government has to be honest about the disadvantage gap in this region.

Schools are plugging the hole in too many crucial areas; they’re having to focus on many aspects of social care, not just teaching.

It’s not good enough. It’s demoralising and disappointing for the entire sector.

It’s time appropriate funding and resource went into enabling teachers and school leaders to be equipped with what is necessary to help our young children access the opportunities they deserve.

They need to be supported to fund external programmes and commercial solutions, which ensure our school leavers will be literate, confident, ambitious and have a good level of mental and emotional wellbeing.


Stephen Priestley 

Director, Logic-i 

I’d like to see renewed commitment to ‘levelling-up’. 

It means different things to different people but, whatever the Government’s political hue, bringing prosperity and jobs to ‘left behind’ areas must remain a key policy.

Infrastructure investment can act as a real impetus to reviving a region’s fortunes, something we have seen first-hand in the North East.

However, ‘levelling-up’ shouldn’t just be an aspirational pledge by the Chancellor, or a soundbite for an upcoming political broadcast by whichever party assumes power.

We are still experiencing the economic aftershocks triggered by the pandemic, the Ukraine conflict and Brexit, and economic recovery is crucial if we are to achieve long-term growth and become less dependent on imports.

As a director of a consultancy firm specialising in commercial, planning and project control across the construction and industrial sectors, I believe we must continue to champion measures that stimulate regional economies.

Public and commercial infrastructure have a pivotal role to play, and the Government must prioritise significant investment in research and development, housing and construction, green initiatives and digital infrastructure, with a particular focus on those ‘left behind’ areas, to stimulate job creation, create lasting opportunities and reduce regional disparity.


Tania Cooper 

Chair, North East STEM Foundation

Managing director, Steel Benders UK

I implore the Chancellor to prioritise STEM education to ensure all individuals can access high-quality technical education, which will enable them to thrive in our increasingly complex and interconnected world. 

This is particularly pertinent given the growth and investment in the North East, which requires more skilled people to fill positions.

It is challenging to envision how our evolving economy can thrive without proper STEM understanding, appreciation and representation at the heart of the Government. 

Education in STEM imparts transferable skills that are fundamental in supporting MPs in their work, particularly in analysing policies and legislation across a wide spectrum of topics.


Elaine Stroud  

Chief executive, Entrepreneurs’ Forum

North East entrepreneurs can spot opportunity and will take risks to get projects and businesses up and running.   

And with a General Election on the horizon, entrepreneurs will be looking at the Autumn Statement for plans that support long-term sustainable economic growth.  

Although inflation rates are easing, business owners will be hoping for further measures aimed at stabilising inflation and reducing wage bill pressure.  

The cost of finance, particularly debt, is high and causing stagnation of investment decisions, so measures to give certainty on future interest rates would be welcome. 

Our members need skilled and non-skilled workers to execute their ambitious growth plans, so any measures to mobilise more workers now would be welcome, as would a longer term commitment to looking at upskilling the UK workforce as a whole. 

It would also be helpful to get a clearer picture of the Government’s net-zero strategy. 

We have a huge opportunity in the North East to be at the forefront of the UK’s energy transition, but we need more certainty to incentivise entrepreneurs to capitalise on the opportunity.