The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) has been granted a portion of more than £5m through Sunderland’s Shared Prosperity Fund Programme to stimulate economic growth and provide support to enterprises and residents in the Sunderland area. This fund, which is a crucial part of the government’s Levelling Up agenda, has been created to invest in communities and places, as well as to support local businesses and people by improving their life chances and increasing pride in their living spaces. The NEAA’s Local Automotive Business Support – Sunderland (LABS-S) initiative, which is set to run until March 2025, will fulfil some of UKSPF’s primary objectives, which involve advancing productivity, pay, jobs, and living standards for sustained economic growth. This programme will help up to 50 businesses in the Sunderland district by striving to meet their strategic needs.
Additionally, the LABS-S programme will strengthen Sunderland City Council’s City Plan (2023-2035), which outlines a plan for all partners and communities to work together to address this region’s social and economic hurdles. Equally, the Sunderland area plays a significant role in the North East’s automotive industry, representing 57.5 percent of the £8bn of this space’s regional automotive turnover in 2021. This area’s prominence in the automotive manufacturing sector, home to the UK’s largest car plant, three of the UK’s top five off-highway manufacturers, and a competitive international supply chain, is noteworthy.
However, this sector faces “unprecedented challenges” due to the global megatrends of vehicle electrification, NetZero, industrial digitalisation, supply chain resilience, and energy, which present both opportunities and challenges. To maintain their competitive edge, businesses in this sector will require specialist assistance in addressing these changes. Paul Butler, CEO at NEAA, expressed his excitement, stating that “the NEAA remains committed to supporting and facilitating the collective needs of our automotive supply chain in the North East to accelerate business growth.”