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Chamber urges Chancellor to address regional inequalities in recovery plan

Independent business organisation, the North East England Chamber of Commerce, has written to the Chancellor demanding urgent action to support the region’s economy during the coronavirus crisis.

Writing to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of his July statement, the Chamber’s letter emphasises the need to address regional issues, which the pandemic has exacerbated such as above average unemployment and economic inequality.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the Chamber, said: “The consequences of this crisis and the resulting recession will not be felt evenly across the country.

“Experience teaches us that downturns are more pronounced in regions such as ours and fall disproportionately on those with the least capacity to withstand them.”

Mr Ramsbotham urged the Government to keep its promise to level up the country, building on the principle of fairness and recognising regional disparities in order to increase investment and inclusive growth in the North East.

The letter set out how the crisis has reinforced a sense of community and a common goal to get the region back on its feet. Government support could use this community to spirit to help create a more resilient economy.

Mr Ramsbotham also stressed that any economic recovery plan should address longer term goals such as environmental sustainability.

He said: “Lessons learned from this crisis can help us adopt greener, more resilient ways of working while still achieving economic growth.

“The North East has many competitive advantages in this space, ranging from our expertise in renewable energy and electric vehicles through to our abundant green space and natural resources.

“Government must think creatively and work with businesses to best harness these assets for sustainable growth.

“The final guiding principle for a Government recovery plan must ensure businesses can make the most of every opportunity that is available to them.

“As we have seen in previous downturns, no matter how difficult the situation, businesses will adapt.”

The Chamber is also calling for a number of specific short-term measures needed for early recovery.

These include planning system improvements, better connectivity, investment for key areas including education and skills, particularly for young people, housing stock and town centre regeneration.