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The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) has commissioned a high profile team of leaders from UK finance, industry, public and civil society to produce a strategic, constructively critical review of the North East economy.

NELEP’s economic review will be chaired by Lord Andrew Adonis, former Secretary of State for Transport and Minister for Schools.

By targeting both productivity and employment growth in the period to 2030, the independent economic review team will call upon expert evidence to provide them – and ultimately the North East LEP and its local, regional and national partners – with a set of strategic interventions to be implemented over the next five years.

The private sector-led review team includes Will Hutton, former editor in chief of the Observer, now chair of the Big Innovation Centre and principal of Hertford College, Oxford; Heidi Mottram, CEO Northumbrian Water and member of the CBI’s national infrastructure panel; Lord Don Curry, leading businessman and chair of NFU Mutual; Bridget Rosewell, economist and chair of Volterra Partners; and the Right Reverend Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham.

A panel of internationally recognised economists and academics will carry out in-depth original research to provide up to date evidence about the performance of the North East economy, and report their findings to the review team led by Lord Adonis.

The North East LEP’s economic review has strong backing from central government, and will be submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Hon Nick Clegg and cabinet colleagues.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “There is enormous potential for growth in the North East. The region has a proud history of manufacturing and sectors like this are an important part of the North East’s economic future too.

“For too long the UK economy has been focused on the City of London, ignoring the potential powerhouses of North East cities. This region is a place where business can thrive, where things are built and made – I want to see much more of this.

“The LEP’s independent economic review will challenge existing assumptions and approaches. It’s not enough just to get us back to where we were. There can be no forgotten areas of Britain. We need to rebalance the economy by fostering growth across the region and across a range of industries.”

Lord Adonis said: “This independent economic review provides an immense opportunity for the North East economy to truly realise its potential. The North East already outperforms the national average in its manufacturing and export figures; we want to help the region raise its performance in other areas to drive forward growth.

“How, for example, can we encourage a more entrepreneurial culture in the North East and increase levels of business formation? What lessons can we learn from comparable regions? What are barriers to business growth, for example in terms of infrastructure, skills and access to finance, and what policy approaches are required to overcome them?”

Paul Woolston, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Chair of the North East LEP, said: “The North East has developed economic strategies in the past. However, in recent years, global economic circumstances and assumptions have changed way beyond anything we could have anticipated. We need to understand what this really means for us going forward. It is vital that we grasp how to position ourselves to be more globally competitive, create more jobs, and ensure that all of the people in the North East have an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from economic growth.”

Lord Michael Heseltine supports the commissioning of the NE economic review. He said: “When I was told about the work the North East LEP had initiated I was pleased, and I am delighted they have secured the expert chairmanship of Lord Adonis.

“From my work over many decades regenerating many of this country’s neglected areas I am a passionate believer in the power of bringing business and local government together to exploit the many strengths that exist in our city regions, to help restore them to their once great heyday.”

Alongside an assessment of the North East economy in European and global markets, the review will call for evidence on a number of cross-cutting themes including labour markets and skills, infrastructure and land markets, finance and capital markets, private and social enterprise and the role of government and public governance.

Heidi Mottram, deputy chair of the economic review said: “This will be a weighty, important study, and is the first economic review to focus on our LEP area, encompassing the seven local authorities. The turbulence of the past few years means that the economic landscape of the North East has changed significantly, and we need to assess its key strengths and the most effective routes forward for business, industry and training to boost the area’s productivity and employment growth.”

After a public debate on the evidence base later in the autumn and an opportunity to call sector and regional experts as witnesses, the review will issue its final report in early 2013.

Its recommendations will identify those actions to be put in place by the North East LEP, others to be taken forward with regional partners and Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland, and actions that require central government involvement and intervention.

Edward Twiddy, chief executive of the North East LEP “The review will look to the next 18 years of economic activity in the North East LEP area. We have asked the review team to recommend key strategic interventions that need to be put in place over the next five years to ensure we achieve our full potential.

“The North East LEP is committed to driving forward economic growth, and we are undertaking this detailed review to provide a framework and create a clear, cohesive strategy to propel long-term growth in the North East and channel future investment most effectively.”

The expert panel and review team will have secretariat support from officers employed by the North East LEP and supporting organisations. The review team and panel, however, are wholly independent of the North East LEP Board and executive team.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd, Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

Notes to editors

In addition to a literature review to summarise what evidence already exists and benchmark the North East’s current position, there will be two calls for evidence. The review team (i.e. the team led by Lord Adonis) will ask for six cross cutting themes, framed to meet the strategic objectives of the North East LEP. These will be reviewed and assessed by a panel of international experts. The themes are:

The North East in UK, European and global markets
Labour markets and skills
Infrastructure and land markets
Private and social enterprise
Capital markets
Public policy

Simultaneously, sectoral, professional and community groups will be asked to prepare their own submissions to the review team. The team will spend time in the North East considering all positions, and a conference in late autumn will provide an opportunity for the evidence to be presented and debated.

The evidence base will be brought together and considered by the review team, who will report their recommendations in Spring 2013. The team is asked to provide actions for the North East LEP itself, recommend actions that would need to be taken forward with partners in the region and across the North of England and Scotland, and actions that require central government intervention to resolve, with five policy recommendations in each of the three areas.

The North East LEP is planning to use existing resources to fund the review, and the significant amount of unpaid support that has been offered by national and local partners will enable this review to represent excellent value for money.

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