North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Durham’s Route To Devolution Remains Uncertain

Durham County Council’s cabinet today approved a report which envisages devolution as an important source of funding for Covid-19 recovery, though it did no more than note it as one potential way of finding the £500m it wants. 

This would be on top of any investment Durham receives from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Levelling Up Fund. 

Officials said it a report that it was ‘vitally important that County Durham gains maximum benefit from any devolution of powers and financial resources.’ 

Any devolution could, however, be to the North East Combined Authority (NECA), representing County Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, or to a reunited NECA and North of Tyneside Combined Authority (NTCA), representing Newcastle, North Tyneside and Sunderland, or to County Durham on a go-it-alone basis.

What happens next is that officials will produce a County Durham Economic Statement including projections of the impact of Covid19 and Brexit, with a report to follow in Spring 2021; and develop ‘an ambitious and innovative thematic pipeline of projects and interventions.’ 

But the way forward politically to the devolution described as ‘vitally important’ for accessing government funding remains blocked by councillors unable or unwilling to address the issue, at least in public, and a government which has not yet produced its expected white paper on English devolution and local recovery.