Skip to main content

Northern Region

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether she will list government achievements in the northern region since 1983; and whether she will make a statement;(2) whether she will list, by Government Department, the principal aid given to the northern region in each year since 1983.

[pursuant to her reply, 5 May 1987, c. 317]: Since 1983 the northern region's dependence on its traditional industries has decreased and the industrial structure now includes an increasing proportion of sectors with good growth prospects. The Government will continue to support this transition by measures to encourage enterprise and competitiveness, combined with regional aid to foster and expand the industrial and commercial base of the north.The Government's success in reducing inflation, in cutting taxes and borrowing, and in reducing burdens on business has helped to create seven years of steady growth in the national economy, which has been reflected in the north, as elsewhere. In the northern region, there are now 1,096,000 people in paid employment, 29,000 more than in 1983, and a further 107,000 self-employed, 16,000 up on 1983. Over 6,000 new businesses register for VAT each year.Redundancies are 30 per cent. down on 1983 and vacancies are 79 per cent. up. Manufacturing investment rose by 57 per cent. in real terms between 1982 and 1985 (the latest year for which figures are available) and business confidence in the region is growing. Unemployment is now on a firmly downward trend standing at 15·7 per cent. compared with 16·8 per cent. in March 1986 and 16·7 per cent. in February 1983.The contributions and achievements of the Departments of Trade and Industry, of Environment and Transport, and of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission are listed below together with a table setting out the aid provided to the region since 1983. The total amounts to almost £5 billion and demonstrates the Government's commitment to the region.Information on the regional achievements and expenditure of other Government Departments is not immediately available.

Department of Trade and Industry

(a) Regional policy

The DTI has spent £555 million on regional aid to the North since April 1983, creating or safeguarding almost 74,000 jobs. Spending in 1986–87 was some 48 per cent. higher than in 1983–84.

The new package of regional incentives introduced in 1984 has increased the cost effectiveness of the assistance schemes by linking grant aid more closely to jobs created, and preventing the payment of large amounts of grant to highly capital intensive projects creating few if any jobs.

(b) Support for Innovation

The DTI has offered support totalling over £45 million since 1983 to encourage firms in the region to undertake innovative high technology R and D projects. This support has been buttressed by aid for firms needing expert advice on a range of technical design matters and for firms seeking to exploit the applications of technologies such as microelectronics, integrated circuits, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing technology.

The DTI has also helped the development of a range of new technology institutions covering areas such as applied R and D, technology transfer and improved education/ industry linkages (for example the Newcastle technology centre, Mountjoy research centre, Durham, and the Middlesbrough cadcam centre.

The DTI has also supported the establishment by the region's universities and polytechnics of HESIN (higher education support for industry in the north). By these means, and other collaboration with industrialists and academics in key sectors of industry, there is active education/industry co-operation to the benefit of both.

A valuable example of private and public sector collaboration is the development by ICI and English Estates of a business and technology park at Belasis hall, Billingham, with an important element of Government financial support.

(c) Support for Small Businesses

DTI's programmes of regional and new technology support positively discriminate in favour of small firms. In addition DTI has provided £6·5 million of aid to small firms (supported by the European regional development fund) since 1983 under the business improvement services scheme. In 1986–87 alone over 600 small firms and agencies received help in the form of support for costs of business and marketing consultants, and for market research and assistance for new project feasibility studies.

(d) Support for Inward Investment and Regional Promotion

DTI has provided £3·5 million grant in aid to the North of England Development Council since 1983 in support of its efforts to encourage inward investment in the region. This has resulted in over 50 inward investment projects creating or safeguarding over 8,000 jobs, including the Nissan and Tabuchi projects.

The Government have also pledged a record £1·118 million to the newly formed Northern Development Company for 1987–88, which has a new partnership for regional self help between industry and commerce, the local authorities and the regional TUC, which has subsumed the NEDC. This funding represents over 40 per cent. of the total allocation to English regional development organisations and exemplifies Government willingness to play their part in the north by backing local efforts.

(e) Support for Exports

Northern region firms make full use of the range of Government export support services. In 1986 alone the BOTB in Newcastle held over 800 meetings with companies in the region many of which found first time exporting success while over 300 companies were assisted in visits to overseas markets.

(f) Support for Advanced Factory Building

English Estates has spent £58·8 million in the region since 1983 developing, managing and marketing industrial and commercial properties on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry. The northern region contains more than half of the English Estates premises and the creation of a new subsidiary in 1986, English Estates North, will allow the organisation to make a greater contribution to the development of the region by responding more effectively to its particular problems and needs.

The Department of the Environment and Department of Transport

Support for urban areas

(i) Urban Programme

The Department of the Environment continues to tackle the problems of the region's inner city areas through its urban programme (regional allocation for 1987–88 is £41·1 million). Over 1,000 projects in nine inner area districts in the north-east are currently being supported under this programme. These include assistance to industry, environmental regeneration and assistance to the unemployed and other disadvantaged groups.

(ii) Urban Development Grant

The Government have made extensive use of urban development grant to encourage private investment in the northern region. Since 1982 a total of 39 projects have been approved with £20 million of UDG supporting £81 million of private sector investment. These include industrial schemes, new housing, the establishment of rundown housing estates and retail developments, including the Gateshead metro centre, the largest out of town shopping complex in Europe.

(iii) Urban Development Corporation

Orders have been laid before Parliament for the designation of urban development corporations in Teesside and Tyne and Wear. Their role will be to inject resources to clear dereliction, provide infrastructure and attract private development. Chairmen for both UDCs have been appointed and consultants' reports on the development potential of the two areas are being placed in the Library today.

(iv) Gateshead Garden Festival

Work is well under way on the reclamation and development of the site for the 1990 national garden festival in Gateshead. Total Government investment in this project will be around £20 million.

Land reclamation

The Government have continued to provide substantial funding for land reclamation in the northern region through its derelict land programme. (Provisional regional allocation for 1987–88 is £19.3 million). Schemes funded under this programme have resulted in the clearance of some 940 hectares of derelict land since 1983.

Land registers

Since the land registers were first set up in 1981, some 2,100 hectares of publicly owned land in the northern region have been sold off or brought into use by the owners.

European regional development fund

In conjuction with local and other public authorities, the Government have been successful in securing the European Commission's approval for Two national programmes of Community interest in the northern region. The programmes, in Cleveland and Shildon, involve in total ERDF grant commitment of about £40 million in support of a range of measures to stimulate local economies.


The Government's home ownership programme is helping to widen the choice of tenure for many householders. Between December 1982 and December 1985 the proportion of owner occupiers has risen in the region from 51 per cent. to 55 per cent. This has been achieved through a variety of initiatives. Through the right to buy leglislation, over 24,000 homes have been purchased by tenants between April 1983 and June 1986. Over the same period, over 100 hectares of land have been released for the construction of starter homes. Again during the same period, partnership schemes between local authorities and private builders produced 215 houses for sale, schemes between local authorities and housing associations for inprovement for sale realised 187 dwellings, 319 unimproved houses were sold for improvement by the purchaser (homesteading) and a further 177 shared ownership sales have been completed.

Estate action

Estate Action (the urban housing renewal unit) was launched in 1985 to help tackle the problems of rundown and unpopular local authority housing estates by a variety of measures including improved management, physical improvements and the transfer of properties to other ownerships.

Nine local authorities in the northern region were granted additional resources through Estate Action for 19 schemes in 1986–87, including extra £6.472 million housing investment programme allocation and £0.495 million additional UP funding. A number of these projects will attract continuing support in 1987–88 and over 40 new proposals are currently under consideration.


Since 1983, £35·3 million worth of Department of Transport trunk road schemes have been completed in the region. A further £82·5 million of new trunk roads have been started since that date, the most significant of which is the Newcastle western bypass.

The recent White Paper on transport announced a further three new schemes for the region — the new dualling of the AI north of Newcastle, costing £1·9 million and at Medall Meadows (£1·1 million) and also the construction of the A167 Durham western bypass costing £4·7 million.

Manpower Services Commission/Department of Employment

(a) Existing Employment Measures

Major developments in existing measures over the past four years include the expansion of work experience through the community programme and refocusing of voluntary projects programme to help long-term unemployed people.

(b) New Employment Initiatives

New initiatives launched since 1983 include the new workers scheme introduced from 1 April 1986 to increase job opportunities at realistic rates of pay for young people under 21 in their first year of employment, and the Restart programme, introduced nationally in July 1986 designed to help those who have been out of work for 12 months or more. Long-term unemployed people have been invited to a personal interview which seeks to guide the individual to one of the opportunties available including submission to a job vacancy, entry to a job club, a place in the new restart courses, entry to community programme or help with self-employment on the enterprise allowance scheme. At the end of March 1987 almost 111,000 interviews had been completed. Restart is being piloted for those unemployed for over six months.

The Middlesbrough task force was one of eight established in co-operation with five different Government Departments as a pilot scheme, the inner cities initiative, in February 1986. The aim of the Initiative is to improve the targetting, and enhance the benefit to local people, of the money channelled through existing central Government programmes in small inner city areas. The task forces were given a modest top-up budget to try out new approaches to the particular difficulties faced locally, and in particular to help to improve the opportunities for employment and self-employment for local people. They are working very closely with the private sector.

Because of the success the task forces have already had in creating partnerships between the public and private sector, and in creating job and training opportunities for local people, the Government announced on 27 April that they were extending the pilot scheme to a further eight inner-city areas, one of which will be Hartlepool.

(c) Small Firms Service

The Department of Employment assumed the responsibility for this service in September 1985. Inquiries from new businesses have been running at 20,000 per year for the four-year period and counselling sessions have more than doubled to almost 3,800 per year.

Advice and information are also available to small firms through the local enterprise agencies, jobcentres. The local enterprise agencies grant scheme has been administered by the regional enterprise unit and 16 agencies have received a total of £296,000 in 1986–87.

(d) Youth Training Scheme

During the four-year period, YTS has developed from a collection of short training courses through a full year of training and experience to a two-year programme of integrated training, education and experience. It is now a firmly established feature of the nation's training effort which will raise the basic skill level of the work force. Spending on this programme at £67·25 million is almost 30 per cent. higher than in 1984 and guarantees a training place for two years to every 16-year-old school leaver and one year to each 17-year-old. The region has 12 information technology centres offering training in computing and electronic assembly skills.

(e) Technical Vocational Education Initiative

The TVEI initiative aims to finance the development of a more relevant and career-related curriculum in schools and will be developed into a national scheme from autumn 1987. Funds have been made available over the period 1985–87 for the in-service training of teachers to promote developments particularly related to TVEI.

(f) Adult Training

Since 1983 the adult training strategy has been launched with the aim of encouraging more cost-effective training, relevant to labour market needs, for both employed and unemployed people. Over 33,000 people benefited from adult training schemes in 1986–87 compared with 5,413 in 1983–84, and spending doubled in the same period. Important new developments have included the Open Tech programme, and the development of open learning; local collaborative projects, funded jointly with the Department of Education and Science; Training for Enterprise, which helps small firms managers and the self-employed; and most recently the new job training scheme, which helps people out of work for more than six months to gain the training, practical experience and recognised vocational qualifications they need to compete for jobs. Access to the scheme is mainly through restart interviews and priority is given to 18 to 24-year-olds. It is expected that 13,000 opportunities will be available by March 1988.

(g) Tourism

Since 1982–83 the English tourist board has approved assistance totalling £2·6 million under Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act to bring forward investment in capital tourism projects in the Northumbria tourist board area. Both the ETB and Northumbria tourist board have also actively been involved in initiatives to promote the expansion and development of tourism in the region, for example through the tourism development action programmes set up to co-ordinate strategies for tourism in Tyne and Wear and Kileder.

The regional enterprise unit for the north-east assumed responsibility for implementation of tourism policy in September 1985. The tourism co-ordination group, chaired by Department of Employment's regional director, was set up to consider the action points in the north-east tourism co-ordination report. It comprises all the major interest groups. It meets regularly arid is evidence of the increasing co-operation between Government Departments, local authorities and the private sector, all of whom are becoming increasingly aware of the need to improve the north-cast's share of the tourism market.

Interdepartmental action

In February 1985, the Government announced the formation of the Newcastle/Gateshead city action team, an initiative to focus and co-ordinate the programmes of DTI, DOE and the Department of Employment/MSC in the inner-city area. The three Departments liaise in analogous initiative in Cleveland through the Cleveland co-ordinating team; and they work with the local authorities and others in the south Tyneside industrial strategy committee, the Sunderland economic regeneration team, and in other more localised activities.

In May 1986 the city action team was allocated £1 million to spend on economic projects designed to stimulate job creation and enterprise in areas throughout the north-east affected by shipbuilding closures. A further £1 million has been made available for 1987/88. This funding, which supplements aid available through existing schemes, has provided a degree of flexibility important to bring forward desirable projects and support major initiatives such as the Burton's design works and important activities in other areas including marketing and new technology.

Also in response to shipbuilding redundancies, Government provided support of £5 million to British Shipbuilders to enable it to set up British Shipbuilders Enterprises Ltd. which has its headquarters in Cleveland. BSEL provides help in the way of retaining and replacement of redeployment of redundant workers and advice and assistance for those wishing to set up their own business. A further £1 million was made available in 1986–87 through the MSC specifically for training redundant shipyard workers.

Aid to the Northern Region' by Government Department Department of Trade and Industry

(a) Regional Development Grants ( RDG )

(i) Old Regional Development Grants2 (Payments)

£ million


1 North East Region and Cumbria.

2 Figures for financial years cannot be provided in the rime available for British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. and calendar year figures are included in totals.

(ii) New Regional Development Grants1(Offers)

Grant offered £ million

Associated jobs


1 Scheme began in November 1984.

(b) Assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act (Offers)

Offer value £ million

Jobs created or safeguarded


(c) Assistance under Section 8 of the Industry Act (Offers)

Offer Value £ million


(d) Support for Innovation (Offers)

Offer Value £ million


Department of the Environment and Department of Transport

£ million





(Provisional Allocation) 1987–88

Rate Support Grant746·8760·2774·7716·3792·3
Housing Investment Programme138·3110·491·881·573·4
Urban Programme39·936·944·945·241·1
Derelict Land Grant14·014·015·518·019·3
Transport Supplementary Grant31·327·210·510·010·7

European Regional Development Fund (Infrastructure Grant) by Calendar year

£ million


In addition,£20 million of Urban Development Grant, which is not allocated on an annual basis, has been approved.

(e) Business Improvement Services1 (Offers)

Offer Value £ million


1 Scheme began in November 1984.

(f) Support for North of England Development Council/Northern Development Company (Grant in Aid)

Grant in Aid £ million



1 To NDC.

(g) Capital Expenditure by English Estates

£ million


New Trunk Road Schemes completed by the Government since 1983

Northern Region

£ million

A1 Alnwick Bypass (Stage II)3·7
A1 Belford Bypass3·3
A1 Berwick-upon-Tweed Bypass9·6
A66 Darlington Bypass5·9
A69 Bardon Mill Bypass2·0
A69 Cross Lane GSJ2·3
A69 Steenhouse Diversion3·0
A69 Team Valley GSJ2·7
A596 Levens Bridge Diversion4·8

New Trunk Road Schemes started by Government since 1983 and now under construction

£ million

A1 Clifton-Stannington improvement3·1
A69 Eighton Lodge Junction improvement5·6

Manpower Services Commission/Department of Employment







Spend £ million


Spend £ million


Spend £ million


Spend £ million

Vacancies notified101,896n/a111,851n/a125,559n/a132,956n/a
Community programme13,03753·9614,65264·8123,148101·030,767137·23
Voluntary projects programme10·16170·729250·92251·15
Enterprise allowance scheme2,1514·2092,9926·053,7277·5765,13710·382
Community industry1,5233·6381,3393·6331,4333·5341,4513·845
Job release7,105n/a6,396n/a4,852n/a3,257n/a
Young workers scheme7,771n/a4,559n/a5,426n/a


New workers2,680n/a
Job split scheme


Adult training5,4138·4357,61614·2818,62513·68633,04016·324
Local collaborative projects130·41150·387140·647
City action team projects171·0
Regional enterprise unit160·296
Task force Opportunities/ projects4000·87
Small firms service enquiries21,405n/a17,978n a19,885n/a20,660n/a
Counselling sessions1,720n/a2.730n a3.242n/a3,778n/a

1 Northern region (excluding Cumbria) together with Yorkshire and Humbersidc Region.

2 Figure covers from January 1983 to end March 1984.

Spend Sub-regional figures on spend not available.