Powers of the North East Mayor

In May 2019 I was elected Mayor of the North of Tyne, covering Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.  I currently control:

  • £20 million a year investment fund to create jobs and improve the region
  • £25 million a year adult education budget to train people over 18
  • £24 million brownfield housing fund

I’ve used this to:

  • Create a pipeline of 5,377 jobs and counting, against a government target of 1,667
  • Increase course enrolments from 22,000 to 35,000 a year
  • Built 2,133 new, low carbon, homes on brownfield sites
  • Run a child poverty prevention programme in 100 schools

I have the power to raise a precept on the council tax, but have not done so.  Our people can’t afford it.  Instead I’ve levered in:

  • £297 million in private investment to create jobs
  • £9 million this year from government to run free skills training courses

As North of Tyne Mayor I do not control the transport system.  That is mainly in the hands of central government and private providers.  The Tyne & Wear Metro is under local public control, but is heavily dependent on government for funding, with little future certainty.

That’s why in February 2020 I went down to the Treasury and argued our case to get transport devolved.  I succeeded, and in March 2020 Government announced that the North East could have transport – and billions of funding – if we came together as one, united Mayoral Combined Authority.

Initially Government wanted to raise our annual investment fund to £35 million.  The Tories have massively cut our public services, and austerity has not let up.  This was our chance to get some money back for the North East. So I said £35 million wasn’t enough.  After dozens of meetings with different ministers, and poring over details with Treasury officials, they agreed to give us the highest devolution settlement in the country, despite having a lower population.

Region                        Population       Annual Fund

North East                    2.0 million          £48 million

East Midlands              2.2 million           £38 million

West Yorkshire            2.3 million           £38 million

Greater Manchester   2.8 million           £30 million

West Midlands             2.9 million           £36.5 million

In May 2024 the North of Tyne will be incorporated into the new, expanded North East Combined Authority. In addition to the £48 million investment fund, the adult education budget and brownfield housing funds will be increased. But crucially we get:

  • £410 million new money for transport capital investment from 2024 to 2027
  • £164 million for bus improvement over three years from 2023 to 2026
  • New transport funding will be renegotiated on an ongoing 5 year cycle

Initially government insisted that we take our existing Metro funding out of our new settlement.  Over summer 2022 I argued the case with Transport and Treasury ministers, and eventually they agreed to give us the Metro funding separately. Shy bairns get nowt!

None of the new money or powers comes from our existing councils.  It all comes from central government. If we had not negotiated this deal, we would still not have got an extra penny for our cash-strapped local authorities.  It was not an either-or.  It is all new money.

The two police and crime commissioners, for Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police, will continue to exist and will be unaffected by the new devolution deal. We will still have two elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Likewise our fire and rescue services are not part of this deal.