Budget 2017: New devo deals for WMCA and North of Tyne

By Sam Clayden | 22 November 2017

The chancellor has pledged to ‘back’ the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine and elected mayors as he announced a pack of new devolution deals.

A second devolution deal for the West Midlands Combined Authority and mayor Andy Street has been agreed ‘in principle’ to ‘address local productivity barriers’, according to the accompanying Budget documents.

The deal includes £6m for a housing delivery taskforce, £5m for a construction skills training scheme.

The West Midlands will also receive a £250m allocation of the newly announced £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund.

The Budget documents also say the Government is ‘minded to’ agree a new North of Tyne devolution deal.

It will see £600m of investment in the region over 30 years and create a new mayor elected in 2019 with powers over ‘important economic levers including planning and skills’.

Greater Manchester will receive a £243m allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund and will develop a local industrial strategy with the Government.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said the metro mayors and their city regions were the 'clear winners of this Budget', adding: 'Not only did the chancellor confirm that mayoral areas will receive the lion’s share of the new Transforming Cities Fund to improve transport and infrastructure, he also indicated they will be the focus of the upcoming Industrial Strategy and efforts to tackle homelessness.

'This shows that mayoral city regions will be given priority ahead of other places when it comes to government decisions on investment and policy-making.

'If any other cities had doubts about the merits of having a mayor, this Budget should put those misgivings to bed.

'Major cities which are yet to introduce a mayor should therefore step up efforts to agree a devolution deal with Government, or risk falling further behind.

'The new North of Tyne devolution deal and second West Midlands deal announced today are also welcome signs of the Government’s renewed interest in the city region devolution agenda.

'Hopefully the North of Tyne deal will be a stepping stone towards a wider Newcastle city region deal that includes areas like Gateshead, which make up an integral part of the local economy.'

However, shadow minister for local government and devolution Jim McMahon said it was an 'insult for Tory MPs to stand up and say they are fully behind the Northern Powerhouse after hearing the measly offer put forward by the chancellor'.

He continued: 'Instead of a compelling vision, backed by fiscal control and meaningful devolution, we get recycled promises and stale buzzwords.'

'When our towns need help to rebuild a strong economy, provide decent homes and deal with urban renewal, all we get from the Government is another missed opportunity to show real hope and ambition.'

Mr Hammond added that progress was being made on city deals for Tay Cities and Stirling and on a growth deal for the Borderlands.

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