Region reacts to 0.3% drop in GDP

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3:57pm

Bryan Bunn is managing director at the Nortech Group, a successful professional engineering design and project management company based at Wynyard

The Northern Echo:

“The crucial importance of the North Sea oil and gas industry cannot be over-estimated.

“While the figures are worse than expected, there are some signs that the UK is doing well, and the sector we operate in is proof positive that as a nation we do have real reason to be optimistic.”

He added: “The issuing of UK licenses will certainly attract great interest from smaller oil and gas companies even if the big boys concentrate on more profitable projects for the moment. For potential North Sea investors, all the signs are that the smart money is on further significant oil and gas discoveries in the North Sea.

“The UK does have one problem, however. Should it focus on developing its own potentially world class shale gas reserves, its deep-water discoveries in the South Atlantic, or simply stick with its ‘just won’t quit’ North Sea?”

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12:53pm

12:13pm

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop

The Northern Echo:

“Today's GDP stats don't depict the real human cost of what's happening for many people here on Teesside, in East Cleveland and across the UK. They don’t tell the stories of young people unable to find their first job, families struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month and pensioners unable to keep their homes warm.

“The figures show that manufacturing fell by 1.5% and North Sea maintenance has hit oil and gas extractions, both of these have a significant impact on our region. The uncertainty created by Cameron’s mixed messages on Europe seriously risk business investing in the country – and when the UK economy gets a cold, the North East gets the flu.

“The UK is going through its worst recovery from a recession in history and we know that the government will have increased UK debt by 60%, which is more in 5 years than the previous Labour government did in 13.

“George Osborne and David Cameron are on the verge of exchanging our triple-A credit rating for a triple-dip recession as he carries on with his flailing economic policies – including this week declaring further cuts will be on the way. This will be felt nowhere harder than our local community.

“It is undeniable by any measure that the Osborne plan is failing. Every struggling family and business knows who to blame for their plight and the Chancellor must listen to what they are saying.”

12:13pm

George Rafferty is chief executive of Durham based NOF Energy, which is a business support organisation with 420 members in the energy supply chain.

The Northern Echo: George Rafferty

He said: “The importance of oil & gas to the UK economy should never be underestimated.  These figures pinpoint the central role the sector has in the country’s future prosperity, especially if disruption to North Sea Oil & Gas can have such a significant impact on the overall economy.

“Therefore, investing in oil & gas operations has never been more vital and operators are looking to the UK’s supply chain to provide effective technology and skill-based solutions that can maintain productive output.

“The drive to extend the lifespan of North Sea oil & gas fields will also drive supply chain opportunities.  By utilising the supply chain operators will be investing in the UK economy, which will lead to the production of more energy resources, which will also benefit the country’s finances.”

12:11pm

Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Northern TUC

The Northern Echo: 'CLEAR STRATEGY': Kevin Rowan

“Trade unions have consistently argued that savage cuts to public spending will choke economic recovery. With even the IMF now urging the Chancellor to ease off his cuts for the sake of the economy, it is time for George Osborne to put aside political dogma and focus on investment in jobs and growth within his March Budget.

"The Deputy Prime Minister is now among those who recognise that his government made serious errors in turning off the tap to important infrastructure developments when it came to power. Thousands of working people in the region’s construction industry have paid the price for that failure while thousands more are facing very tough choices in an effort to make ends meet. Our stalled growth is in no small part due to those missed opportunities and slash and burn approach. The TUC strongly urges the Chancellor to recognise we need a different direction in economic policy.”

11:44am

John Cridland, CBI Director-General

The Northern Echo:

“After a difficult year, the UK economy has ended on a disappointing note. 

“We think growth will continue to be fairly flat through the winter but momentum will gradually build later in the year, as the global economy picks up a little and confidence lifts.”

11:42am

NECC Director of Policy Ross Smith

The Northern Echo: Ross Smith

“Our North East Quarterly Economic Survey for the quarter showed only slow growth in sales and a fall in orders, so a negative estimate for the UK isn’t a huge surprise. The Government clearly has some tough questions to answer over how it is supporting businesses given the pattern of stop-start growth in recent years.

“However, our surveys have also shown that underlying confidence in the private sector is gradually building, with employment and investment plans increasing among NECC members. It’s therefore important that today’s estimates don’t prompt a wave of excessive doom-mongering which could nip that confidence in the bud.”

11:42am

Phil Orford, Chief Executive of The Forum of Private Business

“It is a difficult time for many businesses operating when an economy isn’t growing, and clearly there will be some continuing tough economic times in the first half of 2013.

“Whilst it is disappointing to see an estimate -0.3 contraction in the economy these are preliminary figures and we will hold judgement until the fuller figures come out.

"In the meantime the positive news is that unemployment continues to fall and the Government has a number of business friendly projects that can be sped up, including planning law changes and infrastructure spending.

“Despite this bad news we feel confidence is growing among small business owners.”

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