Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor
Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor

Autumn Budget 2017: What did the Budget mean for the Tees Valley?

Confirming the agreement of a new devolution deal with North of the Tyne as well as funding to modernise the Tyne and Wear Metro, there’s been much to talk about in the region following the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.

Moreover, the Philip Hammond revealed a ‘£123m investment in the Redcar Steelworks site to support the ambitious plans of our new Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, and my Honourable Friend for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland who are leading the fight for prosperity in their area.’

But what will this bring to Tees Valley in effect and how will this shape the wider North East as we know it?

Unsurprisingly, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen hailed the Chancellor’s announcement. The £123m will be instrumental in helping to Tees Valley to kick-start the work of the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC).

The money will be used towards remediating the former steelworks site and will pave the way for investment from some of the 60 private companies which have already expressed serious interest to the recently established South Tees Development Corporation.

Mr Houchen said: “I have spent the best part of six months repeatedly banging the drum for our area in government. It has been exhausting, but I’m pleased to say it has finally paid off. The Tees Valley has found its voice and we are punching above our weight.

“This historic windfall is the clearest sign yet of the Government’s commitment local people. With this massive investment, we can stop talking about jobs and start delivering them.

“Over 60 private companies are lining up to down root on the former SSI site, and with this cash boost from the government we can finally get spades in the ground next year to start remediation.”

£59m to connect the Tees Valley

A £59m transport fund has also been devolved to the Tees Valley to radically improve public transport across the region.

According to the Government, the six Metro Mayors in England will receive half of a national pot to locally deliver the schemes. Tees Valley’s allocation is based on an equal division per head of population.

Mr Houchen added: “Whilst other areas will have to go cap in hand to Government and complete tedious applications for a slice of the pie, the Tees Valley will receive a ring-fenced pot.

“The current public transport system for the Tees Valley is nowhere near good enough. With this investment, I want to improve the quality, frequency and reliability of the bus and rail services in our area. I will now instruct my officials to start pulling together proposals to fund.”

Reaction from the business community

Kevin Robertson, Partner and Head of the Newcastle office at Womble Bond Dickinson

“The £123m funding announced by the Chancellor will allow the transformation of the former SSI steelworks site in Redcar and create jobs for the local and wider regional economies. The project aims to create 20,000 jobs and add £1bn to the local economy over the next 25 years.

This development represents real investment into the region and is evidence of the big ambitions for the area shared by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, the South Tees Development Corporation and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.“

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute

“The £123m pledge to the South Tees Development Corporation is a massive boost, which will help rejuvenate the former SSI site in Redcar and help realise the region’s economic potential through private investment that will lead to the creation of more jobs in the area.

The Chancellor’s increased commitment to R&D was another welcome boost and a good, ambitious starting point. Moving towards spending on R&D to 3% of GDP, in due course, would be more in line with other advanced economies, so I’d like to see this initial 2.4% pledge develop further, which will help unlock the Government’s Industrial Strategy aspirations.

The rise in R&D tax credits was another measure that will ease the burden on pioneering companies and SMEs investing in innovation to develop new products and processes. However, more collaboration and, in particular, innovation diffusion is required to provide small businesses with the access to finance and research capabilities to support their growth potential.“

Graham Robb, Vice Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum

“This was a great Budget for the North East. Investments in our transport infrastructure, particularly the Tyne and Wear Metro, will improve connectivity and the brilliant £123m for the South Tees Development Corporation paves the way for further economic prosperity on Teesside. The Chancellor has confounded critics of the Northern Powerhouse.”

What did you think about the Budget? How will announcements affect the Tees Valley moving forward? Share your opinion in the comments below and let us know what you think.

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