THE North East’s largest independent business organisation has written to the Chancellor to demand urgent action to support the region’s economy facing devastating reductions in sales and cashflow.

At the heart of the North East England Chamber of Commerce letter, ahead of Rishi Sunak’s July statement, is the need to address issues which Covid-19 has exacerbated such as above average unemployment and economic inequality.

The letter urges the Government to keep its promise to level up the country, building on the principle of fairness and recognising regional disparities, to increase investment and inclusive growth in the North-East.

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “The consequences of this crisis and the resulting recession will not be felt evenly across the country.

“Experience teaches us that downturns are more pronounced in regions such as ours and fall disproportionately on those with the least capacity to withstand them.”

The letter also set out how the current crisis has reinforced a potentially hugely beneficial sense of community and a common goal to get the region back on its feet. Government support could help to use this to create a more resilient economy.

Mr Ramsbotham also made clear any Government economic recovery plan should address longer term goals such as increased sustainability.

He said: “Lessons learned from this crisis can help us adopt greener, more resilient ways of working while still achieving economic growth.

“The North-East has many competitive advantages in this space, ranging from our expertise in renewable energy and electric vehicles through to our abundant green space and natural resources.

“Government must think creatively and work with businesses to best harness these assets for sustainable growth.

“The final guiding principle for a Government recovery plan must ensure businesses can make the most of every opportunity that is available to them. As we have seen in previous downturns, no matter how difficult the situation, businesses will adapt.”

The Chamber also set out a number of specific short-term measures urgently needed for early recovery.

These included planning system improvements, better connectivity, investment for key areas including education and skills, particularly for young people, housing stock and town centre regeneration.

And it highlighted the need to enable local businesses easier access to the public sector supply chain opportunities and support for businesses to become Covid-secure.

The letter ends by saying: “We know the journey ahead of us will be difficult and our businesses recognise the enormous efforts that have been made to provide financial support and prevent job losses.

“We ask you now to maintain those efforts and provide the urgent, targeted support that is needed to help our businesses return to stability and then growth as quickly as possible.”