I strongly agree with all that. In my discussions with individual public sector agencies, as well as with private sector companies, that enthusiasm was matched right across the piece. People understand the importance of it and see the opportunities for the economy of our region. One of my misgivings about the Government's approach is that the public sector's ability to respond is financially constrained.
The policy approach that we adopted meant that our region had the fastest growth rates of any English region right up until the banking crisis. The Pricewaterhouse study of One North East found that, over a five-year period, the agency had directly created more than 24,000 jobs, helped to create over 1,000 new businesses, helped a further 1,700 companies improve their business performance, helped more than 6,000 people into employment, and assisted more than 98,000 people to gain new skills. In particular One North East's work in the area of business competitiveness and development, which covers activities such as overseas investment and enterprise support, realised an overall return of £8 for every £1 spent.