“Historic” £1.4bn devolution deal for North East leads to new money and local powers

New money and powers over skills, transport and housing will be devolved to local leaders in the North East, the Levelling Up Secretary announced on December 28.

If approved following a local consultation, people across Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham will also be given the power to directly elect a Mayor of the North East.

This person can act as a “local champion’’ who can help attract investment to the area and act as a “powerful local” voice in discussions with central government and other bodies.

The government will guarantee the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) more than £1.4bn over the next 30 years which will enable the new Mayor and the councils to plan for the long term, with certainty, and unlock the benefits of devolution for 2 million people living in the area.

The proposed deal sets out the government’s plans to devolve more power to the North East through: Education and skills: The deal provides the region with powers to better improve local skills through full devolution of the Adult Education budget and a greater say over the Local Skills Improvement Plan, which brings together local businesses, colleges, and training providers to identify the skills needed to support local growth. Housing and regeneration: The North East will receive £17.4m to support and accelerate the building of new homes on brownfield land, as well as £20m to level up and kick start regeneration, delivering new affordable homes and green economic growth across the region. Transport: A new City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement with the government will give the North East control of up to £563m to help shape and improve local rail services across the region, as well as the ability to introduce bus franchising. Local leadership: From 2024, the North East will have a directly elected mayor who can champion the area, help drive investment to the region, and can represent local people in conversations with the national government.

The North East is the sixth area to agree a devolution deal this year and means that the government has now made devolution agreements with areas representing over 7 million people since the Levelling Up White Paper was published in February.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove commented: “I’m proud to have agreed a historic new devolution deal with the North East that gives local leaders more power, more money, and an even greater say on how their areas are run.

“A new mayor will ensure local priorities in the North East are at the heart of decision-making, while our billion-pound funding boost will provide the financial certainty needed to level up the area right now and for years to come.”

Lucy Winskell OBE, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “This devolution deal is a hugely positive move for the region and marks a step change in our levelling up journey. The region has come together and is committed to seeing the North East succeed.

“The development heralds new funding and decision-making powers that will unlock the creation of more and better jobs, allow us to seize new opportunities, address issues that are holding us back and critically, to compete where we have strengths on a national, sectoral and global stage, and most importantly to do this in partnership.

“As things progress, the North East LEP will come together with the new mayoral combined authority, allowing for a coordinated approach with one strong voice and a laser focus on delivery of everything this proud region and its diverse communities need to thrive.”

Credit: Bdaily

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