Chancellor unveils two new devolution deals

He added: “It will also enable us to accelerate the growth of our local economy, safeguarding existing jobs and creating many new ones, and it places Hartlepool in prime position to secure a replacement for its existing power station, which alone generates £40m a year for the local economy”.

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The Tees Valley deal will see its investment fund guaranteed at least £15 million a year, with similar powers to the North East devolved from central government. “In certain areas… they are hoping to break up the powers of locally elected Labour local authorities in the hope that, if they have an elected mayor, they will either get an independent or someone who claims to be independent but is actually a member of the Conservative party”.

Simon Henig, the chair of the combined authority and leader of Durham County Council, said the agreement marked an important day for the seven councils that serve the region, which also include Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

In the North East control stops short of the NHS but blue light services including police and fire will be included in the deal and transport, education and business rates will all fall under the mayor’s remit. Funding will be provided as £15m a year over the next 30 years.

The region will be presided over by an elected mayor who will be a key figure in what is being called The Northern Powerhouse.

 From 2017, a new devolved approach to business support, which will simplify and strengthen the support available for business growth, innovation and global trade in the North East in order to deliver the ambition set out in the North East Strategic Economic Plan to create 100,000 jobs. It paves the way for further devolution over time, and for the reform of public services, including health and social care, to be led by the north-east.

The deal will also see the creation of a newly-established North East Investment Fund worth £30m a year and an elected mayor for the region from 2017.

The commission will look at the potential for integrating health services, including acute and primary care, community services, mental health services, social care and public health.

For housing, it means the creation of a new organisation that will find under-developed land that can then be used for new homes.

Osborne noted that the announcement proves the “unstoppable momentum” that “revolutionary plans” for devolution are now gathering – particularly after this month’s Sheffield deal. It follows weeks of negotiation between the Government and the five local authorities.

“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”.

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton said: “Our long-term economic plan seeks to rebalance growth and build a Northern Powerhouse”.

“It will give us a much greater say in our own destiny, and strengthen our ability to compete on equal terms with other city regions both at home and overseas”.

“To ensure people feel the full benefit, business must be involved at an early stage, so we encourage local leaders to work in partnership with firms to make this vision a reality”.

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On behalf of all of the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in the region, the North East and Cumbria CCG Forum welcomed the opportunity to explore improving health outcomes of patients and reducing health inequalities by considering greater integration, deeper collaboration and devolution across the North East Combined Authority area.

Christopher Akers-Belcher