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North East economic response group proposes recovery plan to tackle unemployment and 'the new normal'

A North East response group has secured support from across the region for its economic recovery plan as the country emerges from lockdown.

The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has proposed a staged economic recovery plan to introduce measures that build confidence, stabilise the economy and help our businesses, sectors and places adapt to the ‘new normal’.

The group, which is made up of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, the CBI on behalf of business, North East Joint Transport Committee and regional universities, has joined forces to plot the economic recovery of the region.

The plan includes the actions needed during the next six months as lockdown restrictions are released, the following period of up to eighteen months as the region adapts to living with COVID-19, and then longer-term recovery priorities.

It outlines how the group will develop responses to specific challenges facing businesses, education, the workforce and communities, as well as identifying how innovative approaches can positively impact the way services are delivered, people work and learn, and ensuring support is provided for North East residents.

The recovery plan factors in the importance of new ways of working as businesses adapt to social distancing and personal protection and embed new working methods such as digitalisation which has been a key feature of the immediate response.

Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East LEP, commented: “Right now we are facing a crisis like no other and people don’t want or need debate.

“They want strong leadership which we are delivering through this single plan, which has been developed in collaboration with the North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, the CBI on behalf of business, the North East Joint Transport Committee and regional universities.

“This deals with the practical things we can do to lead ourselves out of this challenging set of circumstances.

“The plan may not be perfect but it will evolve as things change.

“It works because it provides us with the start of actions that will lead us to a bigger and brighter future for the North East and return normality to people’s lives – something we’re all keen to achieve.”

Sarah Glendinning, regional director for the CBI, said: “The recovery plan provides a roadmap for the future and identifies the building blocks needed to create a region that thrives.

“This plan restates our commitment to a strong, collaborative approach that allows us to deliver a unified voice to government and secure greater devolved funding and powers.

“We are very aware that the impacts on specific sectors require a long-term response and we are fully focused on ensuring the plan delivers now and in the years ahead.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “We’ve been hit hard by this crisis. Our key workers have done us proud, and our communities have stepped up.

“We need to act now to build a future that’s prosperous. We need jobs. Good jobs with good wages.

“That means getting investment in offshore wind, a low-carbon transport system and affordable housing. It means giving our youngsters the training they need.

“It means looking after the key-workers who’ve seen us through this crisis.

“It means revitalising our high streets, supporting our established businesses, and nurturing new ones.

“We’ve got everyone pulling together on this - businesses, councils, transport, health and education.

“That’s exactly the team we need to make our region prosper.”