The North East Business Banking Pulse

Many of you will have seen on our social media and website the recent launch of the ‘Business Banking Pulse’ by NECC in partnership with Smart Money People. We’re calling on North East based businesses to tell us how they are being serviced by the financial services industry and to try to understand what more could be done to help the region to prosper.

Business banking and particularly access to finance are essential to many businesses. There has been a lot said in the media over recent months about opening up lending to help businesses expand and prosper. Although there has been a big push with many UK and EU level growth schemes, such as city deals, the regional growth fund and ERDF, the more traditional banking finance is something which needs as much attention.

The Business Banking Pulse will allow us to find out from businesses which cover a vast array of sectors, whether or not they are satisfied with the level of support they can access from the financial services industry. The North East is an ever increasing centre for innovative business; although there is big support network available, an effective business banking system and wider financial services access remains key to support the future of the region’s growth.

The North East Business Banking Pulse is running from Wednesday 13th January to Friday 12th February and is open to all North East-based businesses. Businesses can take part by visiting

Summary results are due to be released late in February.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact Ben Powick, Policy Advisor at



Posted in Business Support Finance by ben.powick. No Comments

Migration Advisory Committee publishes report on review of Tier 2 visas

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published a report following their review of the Tier 2 visa route for skilled workers from non-EU states. The full report and an executive summary can be found here.

The Government commissioned the MAC to review the Tier 2 visa route with a view to reducing net migration and encouraging employers to train British workers. The main recommendations in the report are:

  • Raise the minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2 (General) migrants from £20,800 to £30,000 for experienced workers, and from £20,800 to £23,000 for new entrants
  • Introduce an Immigration Skills Charge to cover all Tier 2 routes except Graduate Trainee and Skills Transfer routes for Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfers). The MAC suggests an amount of £1,000 per Tier 2 migrant per year payable at the time of the Certificate of Sponsorship application. The MAC estimates that this could raise £250 million per year, which could be spent on training British workers
  • Increase the minimum amount of prior experience required for migrants using the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) route from 12 months to two years, except for the graduate trainee route and skills transfers route
  • Create a separate Tier 2 route for third-party contracting under the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500. The report states that there has been a problem with employers misusing the intra-company transfer route to hire migrant workers to work for a third-party – mainly contractors in the IT industry
  • The MAC recommends that the Government should launch a thorough review of skills shortages within the IT sector

NECC responded to the call for evidence issued by the MAC when the review was launched, and our response can be viewed here.

We are concerned that the proposed restrictions on Tier 2 visas will reduce the flexibility of employers to temporarily recruit skilled workers from overseas in order to fill skills shortage vacancies when there are no suitable local candidates with the required skills.

NECC members in the advanced manufacturing sector commented that increasing the minimum salary thresholds and introducing an additional tax on employers hiring Tier 2 migrants could make recruitment more difficult for firms in the North East, due to regional variations in pay.

We would welcome a thorough review of skills shortages in the IT sector, as this is a concern frequently raised by our members.

The Government will now consider the MAC’s recommendations. If you have any views on this issue, please get in touch by emailing or leave a comment below.

Posted in Education & Skills by paul.carbert. No Comments

NECC responds to NE Combined Authority Budget

NECC has written to Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council and chair of the North East Combined Authority (NECA) to respond to their 2016/17 budget proposals.

The letter reinforces the need for councils to work across boundaries and to enhance the capacity of NECA and the North East LEP to deliver the area’s Strategic Economic Plan.

NECC has also commented on decisions in realtion to transport, education and digital connectivity. A full version of the letter is avialble here.


Apprenticeship statistics for the North East: 2014/15

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has now released a final statistical data set for apprenticeship starts in England in 2014/15. This post looks at the figures for the North East.

In total, there were 35,220 apprenticeship programme starts in the North East from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015. This represents an increase of 4,740 (15.6%) over the total number of apprenticeship starts in 2013/14. The chart below shows the number of apprenticeship starts in the North East in each subject area:

Details of the apprenticeship frameworks included in each of these subject areas can be found in the Apprenticeship Frameworks factsheet published here.

The following two charts highlight the change in apprenticeship starts in each subject area between 2013/14 and 2014/15. The first chart shows the increase in the number of programme starts in each subject area, and the second chart shows the percentage increase.

Over half of the total increase in the number of programme starts was made up of apprenticeships in two subject areas: Business, Administration and Law, and Health, Public Services and Care. The largest percentage increase was for apprenticeship starts in Education and Training. It is encouraging to see significant increases in apprenticeship starts in Construction, Engineering and Manufacturing, and ICT, as NECC members report skills shortages in these sectors.

The final chart below compares apprenticeship starts in the Tees Valley and North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in the North East. Using the data for 2014/15, the chart shows the number of apprenticeship starts in each subject area as a percentage of the total number of apprenticeship starts in each LEP area.

From this, we can see that the profile of apprenticeships across different subjects is broadly similar in the two LEP areas. Apprenticeship starts in the Health, Public Services and Care sector were slightly more common in the Tees Valley than in the North East of the region in 2014/15.

The increase in apprenticeship starts across all subject areas is positive news for the North East. As the Government intends to introduce a levy on larger employers to fund an increase in apprenticeship starts from April 2017, it is important that all employers are aware of the opportunities available and know how to get involved. NECC will work to promote apprenticeships and raise awareness of the forthcoming policy changes across the region in the coming months.

If you have any views on this issue, please get in touch by emailing or leave a comment below.


Posted in Education & Skills by paul.carbert. No Comments

UK Digital Strategy

The UK Government is currently seeking views on its proposed digital strategy. Ed Vaizey, DCMS Digital Economy Minister, has invited ideas from industry and the public to help inform the Government’s approach to promote and support the adoption of digital capability within the UK.

For more information and to contribute your views, visit: 

Posted in Uncategorized by jonathan.walker. No Comments