THE number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses in the region has dropped sharply, it was revealed yesterday.

The North-East experienced an 11 per cent decrease in start-ups, with 3,800 in the first quarter of the year, compared to 4,300 in the same period last year.

The research, carried out by Barclays Bank, found that Yorkshire recorded the largest fall, with 1,700 fewer businesses started than last year, a fall of 17 per cent.

Louise Fowler, small business marketing director for Barclays, said: "The fall in consumer spending on the high street and uncertainty surrounding the housing market are set to dampen start-ups in the North-East for the remainder of the year."

The bank expects the number of start-ups to fall by 30,000 to 430,000 this year.

A conference to discuss how to increase the number of start-ups in deprived communities takes place today.

Government agencies and business organisations will be at the event at Ramside Hall Hotel, in Durham, organised by the Government Office for the North East.