CHANCELLOR George Osborne has admitted the Government must do more to cut North-East unemployment.
Mr Osborne said he wants to end the region’s unwanted reputation as the UK’s jobless capital, by helping companies create more posts and increase exports.
The area has nearly 130,000 people out of work, with its employment rate lower than the national average.
New GDP figures are today expected to show the UK has officially dragged itself out of recession, with Mr Osborne also poised this morning to announce more than 100 new jobs at Newcastle’s Virgin Money.
However, he told The Northern Echo he recognised many people in the region were still facing the effects of the economic downturn.
The Chancellor pointed to the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which earlier this month handed millions of pounds to local decision makers to create thousands of jobs and boost skills and infrastructure, as a key factor in changing the employment landscape.
He said: “We have made a lot of improvements and turned our economy around from the very deep recession we were in.
“But the job is not done, and I am the first to see that we have to keep going.
“We are not in a situation where all of the jobs and prosperity is going to London; we have created 65,000 jobs here and creating more.
“It’s also fantastic to see what Hitachi is doing at Newton Aycliffe and the return of steelmaking by SSI at Redcar, and there are a lot more exciting things happening in the region.
“We are investing in the North-East through the Regional Growth Fund, the Local Growth Fund and the local enterprise zones.
“People can judge us on the businesses that are here and the jobs that are being created.”
Mr Osborne was speaking during a visit to Carroll and Meynell Transformers, in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton.
It supplies transformers, which are electrical devices used to change voltages.
The company, which once employed 55 staff, was previously forced to go down to a four day week as it battled the effects of the recession.
However, its full-time workforce now stands at 108, with bosses hoping to create another 50 posts in the next three years after spending £1m on a 10,000sq ft warehouse and new machinery to build on £9m annual sales.
Its success has been supported by increased exports, with its products used to help make electric vehicles and run remotely operated vehicles for a major subsea energy sector operator.
The firm, which is supplying projects in Chicago, Toronto and Kuala Lumpur, is also well-known for its signalling transformers for the rail industry.
Mr Osborne said its success was a template to achieve future growth and jobs in the region.
He added: “This company is an example of the good things happening in the North-East.
“It’s a medium-sized firm, but it is increasing North-East exports around the world and we want to see more businesses exporting.
“If you think where it was four or five years ago and where it is now, it is a real example of how the UK economy has turned around.
“A number of the workers now have new jobs and that’s what it’s all about, creating that security for them and their families.
“We have got to do more of this.”