The “Spirit of the North East” saw leaders join forces in planning the recovery from Covid-19.

A reimagined Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland will offer greater opportunity to businesses and individuals as we adapt to the new normal, they said. Cllr Joyce McCarty, who is the North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Employability and Inclusion and Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, welcomed Covid recovery plans by the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group. Co-ordinated with approaches from public health and transport leaders to ensure that the recovery is carefully managed, the group will work to protect health and restore the region’s infrastructure, local economies and communities.

Cllr McCarty said: “This collaborative approach in tackling the pandemic embodies the spirit of the North East, to rise up and face the challenges head on, whilst protecting our most vulnerable. We are committed to ensuring not only the economic recovery of the region, but that we once again prosper. At the heart of all our plans is people – ensuring that the North East is the best place to live, with good access to jobs, homes, education and business opportunities. And we have the plans, the commitment and the drive to deliver this ambition for everyone across the region.”

The Group, which comprises the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East and North of Tyne combined authorites, the CBI on behalf of business, North East Joint Transport Committee and regional universities, has joined forces to plot the economic recovery of the region. The plan was agreed at the meeting of the North East LEP Board with strong support from business, political and education leaders.

The economic response will be co-ordinated with approaches from public health and transport leaders to ensure that the recovery is carefully managed, while protecting health and restoring the region’s infrastructure, local economies and communities. Within the plan are key messages for Government about the support required by the region.

The phased approach retains the region’s ambition to deliver more and better jobs and positions support for its places at its core, whilst being realistic about the long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on the North East. As the plan is implemented, it will aim to build a greener, more productive and more inclusive economy, through investment in energy and environmental industries, life sciences and digital technologies and by supporting people to find jobs and develop their skills.

It is based on evidence drawn together through consultation with sectors and organisations from across the region, a process which will continue over time. The plan considers the actions needed during the next six months as lockdown restrictions are released, the following period of up to eighteen months as the region adapts to living with COVID-19, and then longer-term recovery priorities.

It articulates how the Group will develop responses to specific challenges facing businesses, education, the workforce and communities. It also identifies how innovative approaches can positively impact the way services are delivered, people work and learn, and ensure support is provided for North East residents. The recovery plan factors in the importance of new ways of working as businesses adapt to social distancing and personal protection and embed new working methods such as digitalisation which has been a key feature of the immediate response. It recognises that supporting sectors will be important but that also a focus on towns and cities and transport will be critical to a positive economic response.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Mitigating and recovering from COVID-19 has become the greatest challenge of our time and the response from regional leaders has been nothing less than superb. The collaborative approach across the North East LEP, our Combined Authorities and the world of education and business has enabled us to quickly and thoroughly devise a framework for economic recovery which incorporates a set of practical issues and actions that are evolving in real time. The framework is underpinned by intelligence which is drawn together from sector insights and quantitative data and addresses the fact the recovery will be tentative and phased and that there will be shifting patterns of investment and economic activity.

“While people will be understandably anxious right now, we want them to know that the right steps are being taken at the right time to get the North East back on track and that regional leaders are determined to work together to plot a course through these challenges and to do the right things for businesses, residents and our communities. We want the North East to lead, not lag, the national recovery and everyone involved is 100% committed to making this happen.”

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