Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Economic Policy 'Has to Be Revamped'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Economic Policy 'Has to Be Revamped'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Reporter rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

REGIONAL economic policy must be revamped if the North East is to get a fair deal in the wake of the Scottish independence vote, a national research director has said.

Dr Angus Armstrong, director of macroeconomic research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said the Treasury does not prioritise the North East and politicians must form a strong and uni-fied voice to correct the imbalance.

At a debate on how September's vote will impact on the region, regional leaders also heard of a "growing realisation" Scotland may not lower corporation tax, allaying fears the country would suck business from its neighbours.

It comes as all seven North East councils, from Durham to Northumberland, agree a Combined Authority which will allow it to bid for more Government funding.

Dr Armstrong said regional policy is not a priority for the Treasury when it calculates how to spend Government cash and the North should look to reconsider a regional assembly to be heard above its southern counterparts and in Europe.

He said: "I used to work for the Treasury during the crisis and regional policy does not register. I hate that that is the case, but I really don't think it is part of Treasury policy. I think the whole concept of regional policy needs to be re-thought."

He added: "People in the South East underestimate the extent to which power is centralised, so, although they have a feeling there is something of an imbalance, that imbalance is greater than that feeling would suggest.

"The reason I say that is because of the financial crisis. The only reason they could support the City of London is because of the taxpayers of the rest of England.

"When it goes wrong we pay, it is quite remarkable and I find it amazing that places outside of the South East don't have more to say about that. I do think the degree of imbalance is extremely significant."

Pat Ritchie, chief executive of Newcastle City Council, said the region's airports and universities could lose out due to a possible relaxation in border controls which might see students flock to Scottish universities. …

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