Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devolution Next Steps to Be Set Out

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devolution Next Steps to Be Set Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Keiran Southern Reporter

THE Northern Powerhouse Minister is coming to Newcastle to lead a conference discussing the future of North East devolution.

James Wharton MP will be the keynote speaker at the 'What next for the Northern Powerhouse?' Policy North event, which will set out the next steps for one of the Government's flagship policies.

Last month, six North East authorities agreed to an historic multi-billion-pound devolution package, granting the region a raft of powers and access to extra cash.

An elected mayor is set to be introduced in 2017, and the deal also includes a new North East Investment Fund, targeted towards boosting economic growth, powers over post-16 skills training and a new devolved approach to business support.

Newcastle, Durham, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Northumberland all signed up to the deal, with only Gateshead opting out.

Stephen Purvis, chairman of Policy North, the think tank organising the event, said: "We are now at a real crossroads in the region's devolution journey and it is vital business knows exactly where we are heading next.

"From May 2017, we will have a powerful mayor and combined authority who will be making big decisions affecting our businesses and daily lives in the region.

"Let me take just one example, in business rates. There are huge changes coming - the North East mayor being given the power to set the rates locally.

"It is vital businesses engage now and understand how the changes will affect them, and, more importantly, what changes will be coming next."

As part of the deal, a North East Land Board will be created to identify potential locations for housing alongside an ambitious new target to increase the number of new homes in the region.

Under plans to devolve business rates, local authorities will keep the PS26bn raised in exchange for taking on new responsibilities, including that of the region's transport budget. …

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