Policy cabinet to debate Newcastle’s economy

Image of the Civic Centre at nighttime
Civic Centre

The economic outlook for Newcastle and what steps the city can take to ensure growth and jobs creation will be discussed at a policy cabinet organised by Newcastle City Council next week.

Taking place on Wednesday 22 March to an invited audience of business leaders, learning providers and other key stakeholders at Newcastle College, the event will stimulate debate on what measures the council should be focusing on to ensure the city’s prosperity during uncertain economic times.

Although Newcastle’s economy has grown significantly in recent years - with the number of jobs in the city at its highest level in ten years - the UK faces significant economic and political uncertainties with Brexit and continued government austerity which will impact on the local economy, bringing uncertainty and financial challenges.

Despite these uncertainties, forecasts show the city’s economy is expected to grow. 

The council wants to hear from the business community about what more can be done to stimulate growth, support small businesses, create the right infrastructure to attract new businesses and build a highly skilled future workforce.

Figures released show that unemployment has fallen significantly in the city, and by most in the most deprived areas, but it remains above pre-recession levels. Skill levels are in line with the national average, but there are specific skills shortages facing key sectors.

Further reports show that the number of businesses in the city has increased by 15% from 9,130 in 2010 to 10,460 in 2016, with small to medium sized businesses driving the greatest growth.

Cabinet member for investment and development Cllr Ged Bell said: “We are committed to our vision of making Newcastle the best place in the UK to be born, to live, to work to visit and to study. But to do that, we need to set the right conditions which will help our economy grow and ensure Newcastle is a city that works for everyone.

“This is a key time for the council to hear from local businesses and partners about the big challenges and opportunities facing our city and how we can work together to stimulate growth, jobs and build the skilled workforce that our key businesses sectors need.

“We want to hear about the challenges local businesses face, from the small business owners who form the bedrock of our economy, to the fast growing digital sector which has projected Newcastle onto the global map as the place for digital companies to thrive; to the large employers who have key bases here such as Sage, Virgin Money and Nestle.

“We also want the universities and colleges who shape the young minds and skill sets of the future workforce to join the debate on what skills, opportunities, apprenticeships and training our young people need to set them on a career path and meet the needs of the city’s employers.

“Furthermore, we want to raise the profile of our city nationally and internationally to increase our competitiveness and show that Newcastle is very much open for business.”

The key points from the meeting will be incorporated into an economic plan which will drive the council’s priorities going forward.

Angela Allan, School Director from Newcastle College, who is hosting the event said: “We are delighting to be hosting such an important event for our city’s future and look forward to welcoming key players in the business community to our campus.

“At Newcastle College we are passionate about raising the dreams and aspirations of young people. With over 15,000 learners using our college, we know there is a large demand for skills and workforce training across the region, and we are pleased to be adding their voice to this debate.”

With a devolution deal for the North of the Tyne area in discussion with the government which would allow greater flexibility in local deals that affect the local economy, Newcastle City Council are keen to build the views of local employers into any future plans.

Full details of the Cabinet Paper are available at here