NORTH East politicians have spoken about what they want to see in next month's Budget, including 'levelling up' for the Tees Valley and a new crossing over the River Tees.

The Northern Echo:

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, said: “Over the last 11-months the Chancellor has provided unparalleled support to protect jobs and livelihoods and this will continue.

"This budget provided an opportunity to start delivering on the governments levelling-up agenda, something that is even more important now as we look ahead to the recover from the pandemic.

“In the next few days, I will be submitting our regions bid to be the UK’s first and biggest Freeport. This will be truly transformational for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, it will create thousands of good-quality well paid jobs and will boost the economy by billions of pounds. So, I’m hoping Rishi will use his Budget to reveal where the UK’s first Freeports will be.

“For over a year I’ve been working tirelessly to try and secure Treasury North for Teesside. But this is about more than just jobs, moving a large part of the Treasury to Teesside would not only improve policymaking but would also be an aspirational boost for young people from across the region who would see a career in the Civil Service as a real possibility. Neither of these things can happen in the Treasury simply moves to another metropolitan city such as Leeds, Newcastle or Manchester.

“I’ve invested a huge amount of money into improving our regions transport links, whether that’s our roads, our railway stations, our airport or our cycleways. But some projects are too big, and I expect the government to pay for them, such as a new crossing over the River Tees, so that we can build back better.

“The government has been right to focus on fighting the coronavirus, but this Budget is the perfect opportunity for it to show the people of Teesside that they did the right thing at the last election when they lent the government their votes.”

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Alex Cunningham MP for Stockton North, said: “It’s time the Chancellor got serious about “Levelling Up" for areas like the Tees Valley – his promise of £4 billion for the North which covers everywhere from Manchester to Berwick is a small fraction spent on the likes of HS2, is totally inadequate and needs to be increased several fold if we are to create new jobs and replace the 12,500 lost since March.

"It should also be a budget that supports local people and communities as they look beyond the pandemic including a commitment to maintaining the Universal Credit increase beyond 31 March to ensure families are not forced into further economic hardship.

"We also need a guarantee to provide support for those millions of people who have received no help during this pandemic. Good services are essential and Councils should also be properly funded to allow them to continue vital work without forcing them to hike council tax.

“This pandemic has also highlighted in stark terms the health inequalities our region faces. It is outrageous that a man in Stockton Town Centre lives on average 19 years less than a man in Hartburn. So I would like to see the Chancellor putting money into our local health services – a new hospital for Stockton being a key component of that. He should also deliver the pay increase our NHS and other key workers deserve.”

The Northern Echo:

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: "“We’re lucky to have a Government committed to delivering for the North East and a Chancellor with a seat immediately adjacent to Teesside.  

"This Budget will be about delivering further support for our fight back from Covid. It will also be about equipping us to build back better, with a Freeport, further investment in our infrastructure and I hope good news on the outcome of Middlesbrough’s Town Deal, which will be worth up to £25 million for regeneration.

“Linked to this is the question of relocating core parts of the civil service across the UK. Teesside would be a superb location and I am working closely with MP colleagues and our Mayor Ben Houchen to argue this case at every opportunity.”

The Northern Echo:

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "In a month's time the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will deliver his budget for the next financial year. Over the last year we’ve faced the unprecedented challenge presented by Covid-19, but this Government is still committed to its promise to level up the UK.

"In Redcar and Cleveland we’ve worked hard, with Ben Houchen, to create a Freeport bid that will not only protect jobs in our industry but create another 18,000 over the next five years. 

“The benefits of this cannot be overstated. It will mean hundreds of high-quality, well-paid jobs for our region and it will put Teesside on the map as a hub for international manufacturing and commerce; and so I’m hopefully Rishi will announce that our bid has been successful.

"For Teesside as a whole, it would be fantastic to see Treasury North jobs come here. The benefits of bringing those jobs here is not only in the obvious employment opportunities that would arise, but also in providing an entirely new perspective to UK policy which would better reflect the economic priorities of places like ours."

The Northern Echo:

Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour candidate for Tees Valley mayor, said: "The Chancellor needs to put his money where his mouth is in this budget and show the 'Levelling Up' agenda is more than just a slogan.

"This is a chance to back the big words with real money and make a difference to the lives of ordinary people and communities like ours in the Tees Valley.

"It should be a budget that pledges improvement to our rail and bus network, ensuring people have modern joined up transport and can get around easier when the lockdown is over. We need to connect Teesside and make it easier to live, work and play here.

“This budget is an opportunity to look beyond lockdown and look to the future, to provide the resources the Tees Valley needs to grow its economy and create well paid, good quality jobs of the future. Jobs for everyone.

“This means investing in green industries and investing in our vibrant and thriving tech sector, in leisure and tourism.

"That means a firm commitment to bringing 750 precious Treasury jobs to the Tees Valley which will help regenerate our town centres.

“I would want to see a budget that addresses the deep problems local authorities are facing and plug the yawning funding gap caused by year upon year of central government cuts and deepened by the Covid crisis. I will not accept a deal that forces the hand of local councils to increase council taxes and force local people to pay the price of the pandemic.

“We must see a budget that addresses the deep inequalities that exist in Teesside.

"That means a commitment to keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit.

"That means proper financial support for the three million excluded from the Covid financial safety net.

“The Tees region has a bright future, now is not the time for short changing us and giving small tokens for change. We must build for a better tomorrow, now."