'Brexit taskforce' set up to deal with 'significant redundancies' in the North East caused by leaving the EU

An emergency task force has been set up to deal with “significant redundancies” caused by Brexit, according to an authority report.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 21:28 pm
Updated Friday, 6th September 2019, 12:17 pm

The update on the North East Combined Authority’s Brexit preparations outlined proposals to help the region weather the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

One of these involves setting up a task force to deal with job losses and work with firms that find themselves in difficulty.

A representative from the combined authority said the task force would be made up of NECA, local enterprise partnerships, Job Centre Plus and training providers.

He said the task force would respond to reports about lay-off’s and also help firms who find themselves in difficulty.

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In cases where redundancies can’t be stopped, the task-force will work with the Job Centre and training providers to help people get back into work.

Another idea floated is the creation of a “free trade zone”, for which a second study has now been commissioned.

This comes as central government invited ports across the North East to apply for “free port” status, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs.

Free ports are areas of a country where tariffs do not apply, allowing companies to import goods, store them and re-export them without dealing with the tax authorities.

As previously reported, a report claimed creating free ports that link with enterprise zones in the North East could create as many as 26,000 high-value jobs in the region and add £1.5billion a year to the local economy.

Port of Tyne and Teesport have both been earmarked for the status, and there have also been calls for the Port of Sunderland to get the designation.

The moves – which would depend on leaving the EU Customs Union, something many business leaders in the North East oppose – have been outlined in a report for construction firm Mace compiled by former Treasury economist Chris Walker.

The report was heard at Tuesday’s meeting of the Leadership Board.

Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council said “work continues to assure the best level of preparedness” for Brexit.