ENTREPRENEURS across the region have outlined what they want to hear from the Chancellor today to help them plan for long-term growth and security.

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has more than 300 members who all run small or medium sized enterprises across the North-East.

Its chief executive, Jonathan Lamb, said members would welcome further Government support to 'scale-up' and says more needs be done to equip people with the training they need.

Mr Lamb said: “Our members have highlighted the need for support in key areas such as training, research and development, recruiting the right talent and support in embracing and adapting to change.”

Paul Drake, operations director of Stockton-based Sapere Software, said that the Chancellor needed to urgently address the digital skills gap in the region's workforce.

He said: “The skills gap is a hindrance to productivity, to growth and innovation and the Chancellor must commit more resources to producing the digitally skilled workers that this region’s growing digital sector needs right now.”

The Northern Echo: Russell Croisdale of Peterlee-based Encore GroupRussell Croisdale of Peterlee-based Encore Group

Russell Croisdale of Peterlee-based Encore Group said that anything the Chancellor can do to support businesses to not only play their part in the process of economic recovery but also benefit from the process would be welcomed.

The Northern Echo: James Griffiths of Middlesbrough-based hydraulic engineering experts IMHJames Griffiths of Middlesbrough-based hydraulic engineering experts IMH

And James Griffiths of Middlesbrough-based engineer firm IMH called for decisive action on the issue of late payments which, it is estimated, leads to the closure of 50,000 small business a year.

Meanwhile, Lucy Hatt, senior lecturer at Newcastle University, welcomed the Government’s recent measures to support researchers, scientists and technicians working at UK universities but added that more must be done to protect the entire university sector.

She said: “All of the universities in the North-East play a crucial role in developing not only the skills and experience that businesses require but also the technology and inspiration behind many successful enterprises.”

The Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, says there needs to be a 'jobs first' approach from the Government.

He said: "Bringing down employment costs and increasing opportunities will be central to recovering from this recession."

Mr Cherry added that no business should be left behind in the next round of Government interventions designed to aid economic growth.