The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) has pledged £5 million to help businesses and communities in the North of Tyne respond to Covid-19.

Grants of around £1.5 million have been offered from the NTCA Covid-19 Capacity fund to Northumberland County Council, North Tyneside Council, and Newcastle City Council to meet the need they see locally. Working with key partners, the Capacity Fund will help address local priorities, which are not being met by national Government support.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “This delivers targeted help where it’s really needed, fast. North of Tyne has worked with our local authorities to develop a response that will help those falling through the gaps of national schemes. Our local knowledge helps us to help people in a way that central government can’t. We’re helping our workforce, our community and voluntary sectors, and our local businesses who need help now.”

The North of Tyne Covid-19 Response Fund will be used to help support some of the businesses that are missing out on Government grants, connect people to jobs and retraining, and revitalise the city centre and our towns and high streets. Each of the local authorities will identify how best to help people who need Covid-19 recovery cash quickly.

Mayor Driscoll said: “The road out of the Covid-19 crisis will be a long one. Until we have a vaccine or a treatment, we’ll have to adapt to keep our people safe. But this way of working collaboratively, with local knowledge, sets the blueprint from how central government should handle the response.”

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Education Improvement and Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council Cllr Wayne Daley, said: “We’ve been working closely with our businesses and our residents throughout this crisis, and we know the pandemic is having a devastating impact on many. Therefore it’s really important to us that any additional packages of support meet the specific needs of all our communities to support recovery, and target help where it’s needed most. Securing these additional funds is fantastic news, and means we can now strengthen our response to the Covid crisis, and get help to those who are in desperate need during these dark days, and support our road of recovery. Credit is due to those who have worked together so effectively to ensure this resource is brought to bear without delay.”

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside Council Cllr Bruce Pickard said: “We welcome these funds, which come at a time crucial for many of our small businesses and to support communities in North Tyneside. It is good to see the North of Tyne Combined Authority rise to the challenge of leading our response to the Covid pandemic. We are providing the support to help replace lost jobs, get businesses back on their feet, and bring high streets, towns and city centres back into life. We are ambitious for North Tyneside and have achieved so much to make it is a great place to live, work and visit – this fund will help to give hope to our communities as we come through this period.”

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Employability and Inclusion and deputy leader of Newcastle City Council Cllr Joyce McCarty said: “The coronavirus pandemic is not just a health crisis, it’s also an economic crisis and it is crucial that we support all local businesses; especially our small, independent enterprises and voluntary and community sector organisations. With this additional funding, we will be able to widen the scope of our response, whilst continuing to work hard to ensure as many organisations as possible are able to access government’s financial assistance schemes.

“A blanket approach to how best to support communities and businesses wouldn’t solve local issues or make the best use of existing expertise. In Newcastle we want to focus on the needs of each individual organisations, connect with the people behind the business and provide support tailored to them. We want this funding to make a difference to the individuals, their business and employees. Newcastle is a great city, and will continue to be a great city. With a strong partnership approach, we will reach out to businesses and provide guidance and support; support our voluntary sector who help those in greatest need; help people who have lost their jobs secure new roles; and revitalise our city centre and local high streets.”

The NTCA will play a leading role in the Covid-19 recovery regionally. Cabinet members are working with Mayor Jamie Driscoll to develop a recovery framework which will set a timescale and identify key areas of need. It is working with Government to support the phased return from lockdown and to draw down funds and new powers to be used in the recovery effort.

And it is helping coordinate the Covid-19 recovery effort locally, working with voluntary and community sector organisations and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), North East Combined Authority (NECA), and the Local Resilience forum.