Progress is being made in creating more jobs across the North East, a new report has revealed, but the employment gap with the rest of the country has widened.
The latest annual review from the North East LEP shows the body is still some way off its 2024 target to create 100,000 jobs since 2014, having suffered setbacks amid the massive disruption wrought on the economy be Covid. Jobs data in the review shows North East employment was 59,600 higher than at the start of 2014 – meaning the LEP is about three-fifths of its way to the headline target.
The latest figures for 2022 showed the pandemic’s impact as total employment was about 10,000 lower than in 2020, despite an increasing during the year. Painting a mixed picture, the report said that while employment in “better jobs” – a key criteria of the LEP’s plan – had bounced back more effectively from Covid than other occupations, overall employment had grown at a slower pace than the rest of England, excluding London.
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Introducing the review, Helen Golightly, LEP chief executive officer, said she was delighted at the landmark £4bn North East devolution deal. She said: “This Annual Review is full of activity that is driving forward our mission to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan. Our plan has always been to create 100,000 more jobs in the economy, of which 70% are better jobs, between 2014 and 2024 as we strive to create a stronger, greener and more inclusive economy for the region.
“It is currently a time of transition for the LEP following the exciting announcement of the North East Devolution Deal. The Annual Review details our commitment to a strengthened region-wide partnership working with colleagues to play our part in realising this ambitious, historic deal.”
The LEP also pointed to a series of highlights from the year, including the relaunch of the North East Evidence Hub, which brings together data and evidence about the region to support decision making, and how the Growth Hub has helped businesses achieve £8,800 turnover per employee uplift since 2017. It also highlighted the launch of The North East Commercial Property Investment Fund, managed by FW Capital, which provides loans of between £2m-£7m for new or refurbished grade A commercial office and industrial space.
Over the next year, the North East LEP board will transition into the Business Board of the new Mayoral Combined Authority – a move that Ms Golightly said would provide a business voice to inform strategic direction and decision making.
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