Council leaders in the region were today due to sign up to the concept of a North East Mayor and Government investment of up to £1bn over the next three decades.
The agreement and new powers were hailed as a significant boost to the Northern Powerhouse as Chancellor George Osborne and Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton were set sign a deal with the North East Combined Authority – the group which represents the region’s seven local authorities, including South Tyneside.
Voters in the North East will now choose a directly- elected Mayor in 2017, who will take on a raft of new powers as part of plans to take power out of Whitehall and hand it back to local people.
The North East will receive £30m a year over the next 30 years thanks to a guaranteed £900m from the Government.
The new Mayor will oversee a range of powers devolved from government, and the Chancellor announced recently mayors will also have the power, if they have the support of the local business community, to raise business rates to help fund new infrastructure.
The North East deal, provides for the transfer of significant powers over transport, strategic planning, employment and skills from central government to the region and it paves the way for further devolution over time, and for the reform of public services, including potentially health and social care, to be led by the North East.
Today’s announcement, alongside a similar deal also being unveiled in Tees Valley, brings the number of city regions across the north signing up to mayoral devolution deals to four.
Devolution deals underline the government’s commitment to building a Northern Powerhouse to help rebalance the economy and ending the old model of running everything out of London.
Mr Osborne said: “This announcement shows that our revolutionary plans for devolution are gathering an unstoppable momentum.
“The civic leaders of the North East have worked incredibly hard to reach this point and as a result today we are signing this historic agreement, which will give the area significant new powers and investment.”
Mr Wharton said: “Our long-term economic plan seeks to rebalance growth and build a Northern Powerhouse. By ending the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the past, we are giving local people the powers they need to boost jobs and skills.
“Today’s deal means the North East is leading the way, with significant new powers and nearly £1billion of Government investment over the next three decades.
“This will enable the region to compete nationally and on the international stage. I look forward to seeing how a future Mayor and combined authority work with the business community to make their ambitions a reality.”