Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled a number of frequently asked questions and answers relating to devolution, the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority and it’s new Mayor and Cabinet.
What is devolution?
Devolution is about taking decisions as near as possible to where they will have an impact. At the moment, a large proportion of decisions about what happens in the North East is taken by the Government and its departments. Through a process known as ‘devolution deals’ the Government is giving areas more powers to make their own decisions on issues such as transport, skills and support for business.
What is a devolution deal?
A devolution deal is a way groups of councils agree with Government to take greater control over funding for their area and take more major decisions, currently taken in London, locally.
What does this mean for people who live and work here?
This is a deal that guarantees long term funding that will allow us to invest in public transport, support business, improve skills and living standards while tackling the climate emergency. It will mean more of the decisions with major impacts on our region will be taken here. And it means being at the front of the queue for future powers and funding.
It is expected that the initial outcomes from the deal will include:
Creation of an additional 24,000 jobs;
Building an additional 3,100 homes;
Helping 6,000 people to get “work ready” each year;
Commissioning 70,000 courses each year to get people good jobs;
Taking major steps towards achieving Net Zero; and
Leveraging £5.0bn of private sector investment.
How will it work?
The seven local authorities already work closely with each other, with two combined authorities currently existing in the area, namely the North East Combined Authority (NECA) and North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA). This devolution deal represents the next step forward in that partnership working. The biggest change will be the creation of a directly-elected Mayor for the entire region, who will take decisions with the local authorities within the new combined authority for the North East.
What area will it cover?
The deal covers the North East local authority areas of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
How much is the deal worth?
The devolution deal for the North East is estimated to be worth more than £4.2bn of additional investment over 30 years.
Why do we need a Mayor?
The mayor will be a metro mayor, which simply means they are a directly-elected leader of a region spanning a number of local authority areas. Metro mayors are distinct from ‘local authority mayors’, such as the Mayor of North Tyneside Council, who are directly-elected leaders of individual councils. Metro mayors work with combined authorities to exercise powers at a regional level. The Government believes the public should be able to directly elect a mayor to ensure accountability for the additional powers and funding made available through devolution deals.
What powers will the Combined Authority have?
Powers which are currently held by central government will become powers held locally. Some will transfer from government and some are already held by NTCA. Powers include making decisions on investment in transport, housing, skills and adult education and culture among many others.
How will decisions be made?
Most decisions will be voted on by the Mayor and Cabinet, decided by a simple majority. Each council will have a representative on the Cabinet, so each area is represented, as well as each one having a portfolio of responsibility to oversee for the whole region. Decisions that rest with the Mayor are subject to varying approvals by combined authority, as set out in the devolution deal.
How would the Mayor be held to account?
The Mayor would be part of a Combined Authority with North East council leaders who would all have a say in the decisions taken at a regional level. There would also be an Overview and Scrutiny process similar to that in place in local authorities. The Mayor would be responsible to voters and re-elected every four years.
Who will choose the Mayor?
The Mayor will be elected by the electorate of the seven constituent local authorities.
When will the Mayor be elected?
The first mayoral election is expected to take place in May 2024 and they will serve a four year term.
Will this cost more?
As part of the devolution deal, funding has been secured to meet the additional costs of the new arrangements. The Mayor and Cabinet will have limited tax-raising powers and will be accountable to the electorate for that decision and how that money is spent.
Will this mean more politicians?
There is no increase in the number of political positions held in the region.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority’s elected mayor role will end and a new directly elected mayor role will represent the entire region.
Isn’t this just more bureaucracy?
Devolution is about reducing bureaucracy. By taking decisions closer to where they will have an impact we can reduce the lengthy processes involved with dealing with Government and secure better outcomes offering better value for money.
What does this mean for existing councils?
Councils will continue to have the responsibilities they do now, providing vital services to their communities and championing their towns, rural communities and cities.
What does this mean for the role of Police and Crime commissioner?
The seven partner local authorities fall into two police force areas, served by Northumbria Police and Durham Police. These positions will remain and the responsibilities not transferred to the new North East mayor.
Have the public been consulted?
Between January and March 2023 a public consultation asked the public for their views on the changes needed to implement the devolution deal.
A total of 3,235 individuals and organisations from across the region took part in the process. Participants were asked to consider five key areas around the proposals, and in all instances, the majority of respondents agreed with the plans.
These were governance of the proposed North East Mayoral Combined Authority (61% agreed) as well as its plans around transport (67%), housing and planning (60%), finance and investment (53%), and skills, employment and adult education (65%).
Who is leading the setting up of the new Combined Authority?
The transition is being led by the leaders and Mayor of the seven local authorities. Dame Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside chairs a steering group and each Leader has an interim portfolio.
What happens to the functions of organisations becoming part of the new combined authority?
The functions of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport North East and Invest North East England will be delivered by the new combined authority.
Who will work for the new combined authority?
Staff currently working for NTCA, NECA, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport North East and Invest North East England will become employees of the new combined authority.