The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a historic deal has been agreed for devolution in the North East of England, over the festive period.
This deal will allow local leaders to have more funding and power over the skill, transport and housing decisions in the region, should be approved following a local consultation. This will also allow the people of Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham to directly elect their own Mayor of the North East.
The new North East Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) will be guaranteed over £1.4 billion in funding over the course of the next 30 years, enabling the new Mayor and councils to plan their own long term future, allowing certainty and the ability to unlock the benefits of devolution for the 2 million people living across the area.
Michael Gove, Levelling Up Secretary, said:
“I’m proud to have agreed a historic new devolution deal with the North East that given local leaders more power, more money, and an even greater say on how their areas are run.
“Devolution is all about letting leaders who live and breathe the region decide what is in their best interests, for their people and for their businesses.
“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.”
With the proposed deal already agreed by local leaders, it will enable the government’s plans to release more power to local leaders through education and skills, housing and regeneration, transport, and local leadership. This will be done through the multi-million pound Adult Education Budget will also be controlled by the MCA, giving it the power to shape provision in the best way for the local people that it serves, alongside passing over control of over half a billion pounds worth of public transport upgrade funding through a new City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. Immediate support will also be provided for the construction of new affordable homes on brownfield sites.
Through a joint statement released when the announcement was made, local leaders and mayors across the region said:
“This is a significant step towards securing important decision-making powers and investment for our region. This would allow us to make decisions that reflect local needs and invest wisely into projects that will make a difference for all our residents, communities and local economy.
“There remains a process for all councils and combined authorities to consider the details and a public consultation before a final decision in made.
“We are pleased that we have successfully negotiated a proposed deal which is a step towards reaching our ambition for this region. This is an important milestone in our journey and we will now engage with stakeholders to move the deal into the next stage.”
The North East was the sixth region to agree a deal for devolution in 2022, with these agreements covering areas of over seven million people. This all comes since the publishing of the Levelling Up White Paper in February. The deal will build on the existing collaboration in the North East, bringing the region together and providing a more strategic economic geography. These changes are, however, still subject to the statutory processes, including local consultation and Parliamentary approval.
With the announcement coming between Christmas and the new year, there will be necessary governance steps to move forward, with the agreement being signed in early 2023.