The North of Tyne region will remain open for business, whatever happens with Brexit.

That’s the clear message the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s (NTCA) Cabinet want to give to residents and businesses, as negotiations continue at a national level ahead of the UK’s proposed leaving of the EU on March 29th.

The Combined Authority has already secured £20m a year for the next 30 years through its devolution deal to support and invest in the region and has asked for further devolved powers to provide added reassurances to businesses in the future.

Interim Mayor for the Combined Authority Norma Redfearn said: “These are uncertain times and the government’s own studies predict the North East of England will be the most adversely impacted part of the country by a disorderly Brexit.

“It’s vital we stay on the front foot and we feel we can use our unique position as a Combined Authority to offer a range of help over the coming weeks, months and years.

“We will listen to and support businesses in dealing with their key Brexit issues – both before and after the UK leaves the EU.  These could include workforce matters, trade concerns, potential negative economic downturn scenarios and any new market opportunities.

“We’ll also work with other Mayoral Combined Authorities to make the case for the devolution of additional funding, to take advantage of new Brexit opportunities and counter any negative economic impacts.

“As a Combined Authority we want to assure businesses and the wider community we will remain open for business.”

While significant engagement with business is already taking place, Cabinet is being recommended to develop this further, organising a summit for key sectors and more targeted company visits.

It’s also proposed the Cabinet considers using a small amount of its Investment Fund to respond positively to new opportunities which may emerge in the next few weeks and to counter any potential negative Brexit effects.

Last week the Government announced that Combined Authorities will each receive £182,000 to “fund additional planning and capacity” over the next two years.  It’s proposed the NTCA uses this funding to support areas where Brexit will have an impact on the North of Tyne’s objectives and further discussions will be held around this.

At the same time it’s proposed the NTCA continues to work with the NELEP and wider partners to develop a longer-term response to Brexit, as a new approach to skills and labour market planning will be necessary under all Brexit scenarios.

The Combined Authority will also be recommended to support the development of a Free Trade Zone proposal if the UK were to leave the EU with no deal to ensure that customs duties do not harm the international supply chains which are at the heart of the region’s manufacturing sector.

The Combined Authority will discuss the proposals on February 5 2019.