Productivity in Northumberland is 40% lower per head than in the rest of England
Youth unemployment in Northumberland is 2x the national average
Average wages in Northumberland are £397 compared to a national figure of £510

The Northumberland economy faces significant challenges

Unfortunately Northumberland has struggled to recover from the last recession. This is perhaps unsurprising given the significant contraction of its major employer, the public sector.

However, its recovery has also been limited by other structural weaknesses. Northumberland has huge potential as a place to work and do business. But its fortunes are currently very much tied to those of the wider North East. Building the county’s local economy must be a key priority if it is to secure a future as something more than a pleasant dormitory for the Tyne & Wear conurbation. This will involve widening the range of businesses operating within the local economy, and developing the capacity of local people to take advantage of the opportunities they will bring with them.

Vital grants

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The Northern Angel Fund for Berwick helped to plug a gap in funding for “Here for You”, a service provided by the Berwick upon Tweed Community Trust. The scheme is a lifeline for many Berwick residents by supporting job seekers with search activities and enhancing employability skills through accredited training.

Becci Murray, Project Manager at Berwick upon Tweed Community Trust says: “The project is able to increase digital and social integration, as well as employment through access to IT, support and training opportunities specific to the individual whilst helping to address challenges faced by the rural community.”

  • Vital issues

  • 1. The next generation of entrepreneurs will be crucial to Northumberland’s prosperity. Philanthropy can support activities that give local people the confidence, knowledge and skills to get new businesses going.
  • 2. Young people experience particular difficulties getting into work in Northumberland, with high numbers not in employment, education and training. Youth organisations, with philanthropic support, can play a key role in helping individuals to deal with this challenge.
  • 3. Increasing productivity is a major focus of efforts to develop the Northumberland economy. Philanthropic investment can provide opportunities that enable local people to make the most of new, higher skilled and better paid employment.
  • 4. Developing a wider range of business activity will boost the local economy and reduce dependence on seasonal employment. Is there a role here for social entrepreneurship supported by social finance?
  • 5. High unemployment and low wages are likely to remain a feature of the Northumberland economy for some time to come. The community and voluntary sector will continue to play a key role in combatting the challenge of existing on a low income, and philanthropy is a crucial component of the funding for this.

Vital giving

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The Platten Family Fund made an award of £24,000 to Code Club, an educational programme of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The grant will support teacher training and a volunteer recruitment campaign to establish more coding clubs in Northumberland. Tony Platten explains the thinking behind his philanthropy thus:

 “It is estimated that by the year 2020 there will be a shortage of one million engineers, and therefore it is crucial to help children engage with science, technology, engineering and maths from a young age. Coding Clubs offer a chance for children to build coding skills in a fun way outside of a formal learning environment which can instil passion and help us find the next generation of engineers.“

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