An overview of the two combined authorities in the North East and the role of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in each.


Tees Valley Combined Authority

The Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) brings together the five councils that serve Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton. On 4 May 2017 they elected Ben Houchen as the first Tees Valley mayor.

The devolution deal provides for the transfer of significant powers for employment and skills, transport, planning and investment from central government to the Tees Valley. Further powers may be agreed over time and included in future legislation but health and care are not currently included.

TVCA will be able to create an Investment Fund, via a 30 year initial allocation of funding for capital financing of at least £15 million a year. TVCA will also have access to the Local Growth Fund and will benefit from new Enterprise Zones (subject to bidding rounds).

The role of the VCSE sector in TVCA

VONNE has been tasked to lead on engagement with TVCA on behalf of the wider VCSE sector and, working in partnership with Tees Valley Local Infrastructure Organisation’s and other VCSE representatives, established a Tees Valley VCSE Economic Growth & Inclusion Working Group.

The Group’s vision is:

Achieving economic growth through ensuring that devolution creates meaningful economic & social change that improves wellbeing for all people in Tees Valley & unlocks their full potential.

To find out more read the full Terms of Reference of the Group (PDF:278 KB). 

Commitment has also been made to engage with the sector in the development of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) thematic action plans and for representation within emerging TVCA partnership boards and committees.

North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA)

In November 2018 the government agreed with Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland local authorities a devolution deal for the North of Tyne area.  The deal will transfer unprecedented new powers and investment from Government to the North of Tyne, including a directly elected Mayor for the area.  

North East Combined Authority

The North East Combined Authority came into existence on the 15 April 2014 as the Combined Authority for the LA7 area. Upon the establishment of the North of Tyne CA on 2nd November 2018 the boundaries of NECA were changed.  As a result of these governance changes the boundaries of NECA now cover the Local Authorities of Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

NECA and the North of Tyne Combined Authority will work together on a number of areas to support the region, including transport.  All seven local authorities will remain members of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, the North East Joint Transport Committee, and support Invest North East England.


The role of the VCSE sector in NTCA, NECA and NE LEP

Structural and representation arrangements are yet to be finalised by the North of Tyne Combined Authority or NECA following its restructure but VONNE will work to ensure strong representation for the VCSE sector across relevant work areas.

Currently VONNE represents the VCSE sector on:

  • North East Employment and Skills Board 

The Board gives strategic leadership and direction on the skills programme of the strategic economic plan. It brings together key stakeholders working in skills and employment in the North East. 

VONNE, and the VCSE sector, is represented on the Board by CEO Carol Botten.  Find out more on the NELEP website.

  • Employment Inclusion and Skills Steering Group (EIS)

The EIS Steering Group is responsible for developing the employability and inclusion policy and activity in partnership with NELEP and LA7 colleagues.  The aims is that an integrated approach is taken across the whole North East labour market. VONNE, and the VCSE sector, is represented on the EIS Steering Group by  CEO Carol Botten.  

VONNE also coordinates the:

  • VCSE Employment, Inclusion and Skills Focus Group

The group acts as the voice of North East VCSE employment, inclusion and skills providers, influencing a range of public sector partners at a local, regional and national level. This feeds into the relevant NTCA/ NECA/ NELEP structures.

For more information please read the Group's Terms of Reference (PDF: 27.8 KB).  If you are interested in joining the Group please contact


NECA work on Health and Social Care Integration

Despite having strong health and care services across the region and life expectancy increasing faster than other parts of the country, there are still too many residents suffering from poor health and wellbeing, with many unable to work and trapped in a cycle of poverty.

In recognition of this, and as part of the then proposed devolution deal in September 2015, a joint NECA/NHS Commission for Health and Social Care Integration was established.

It’s work focused on three core themes: a shift to prevention, health, wellbeing and productivity and system leadership and governance.

The Commission worked closely with local stakeholders, seeking views from across the region through a call for evidence and holding listening events in each of the seven local authority areas as well as an event for the VCSE sector which was arranged in partnership with VONNE.  The event provided an opportunity for the voluntary sector to inform the Commission’s recommendations and to identify the issues associated with what needs to happen and to ensure the VCSE is enabled to be a key design and delivery partner of health and wellbeing in the future.

The VCSE was represented at the event by VONNE's previous CEO Jane Hartley, and you can read the subsequent report via the NECA website.

Feedback from this activity has informed the final report and Commission members have also worked collaboratively with local health and care organisations, testing emerging thinking with a steering group of representatives of NECA and NHS partners.

Report: ‘Health and wealth: closing the gap in the North East’

This report sets out ten far reaching recommendations for health and care leaders across the region to break the vicious circle of poor health and poverty. 

For full details of the report please visit the NECA webpages. Each of the local authorities will be considering the detail of the report and agreeing their response to the recommendations.