Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plenty of Promise but Budget Fails to Deliver for Us; REGIONAL ANALYSIS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plenty of Promise but Budget Fails to Deliver for Us; REGIONAL ANALYSIS

Article excerpt


FOR the North East, there was more concern over what was not in the Budget than what was.

Across the region businesses, politicians and various organisations have cited this as one of the most under-whelming Budgets of recent times.

Perhaps it was always going to be this way, with George Osborne doing so much to address personal wealth, hoping as he does that giving people increased spending power will solve the country's economic woes.

In city investment, regional transport links and tax incentives to rebalance the economy there were hints of what could have been - but were never realised.

For example, the Chancellor continued an emerging tradition of saying that he would support plans for accelerated development zones.

Newcastle Council wants to create just such a zone to bring in new private sector investment into sites around the city, with the funding for economic infrastructure funded through future business rate income arising over the next 25 years (so-called Tax Increment Financing).

This proposal could bring in over pounds 1bn of private and public investment, and around 17,000 permanent jobs.

But while Manchester got the go-ahead for a similar project, Newcastle and others will have to bid towards a pounds 150m national pot that's unlikely to spread far enough.

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle Council, told The Journal: "Newcastle is ready to move ahead. I am frustrated that we have not been given the go-ahead today in the Budget and will be pressing ministers very hard to honour the commitments they have made. I believe there is now no remaining barrier in the way of an agreement to move forward."

The city was singled out for ultra-fast broadband investment, a move which will help firms across Tyneside.

Newcastle will, when the scheme finishes, have some of the fastest broadband in Europe.

And for the North East local enterprise partnership, tasked with increasing employment across the region, there was extra cash.

The partnership will have more than pounds 8m extra to put into the Growing Places fund set up to solve local issues making it harder for firms to grow. …

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