These pages outline the current situation regarding Devolution, Combined Authorities and the Northern Powerhouse, and how VONNE is representing the sector in discussions about the future of the North East.


The Northern Powerhouse concept was first outlined by the then Chancellor George Osborne in 2014. Since then the Government has agreed to a number of devolution deals across the North to enable more local control of spending and decision making to unlock the potential for a Northern Powerhouse.  All the devolution deals require the formation of a combined authority and an elected mayor.

In November 2016 the Government published its Northern Powerhouse strategy which re-committed Theresa May’s administration to the idea, with an emphasis on:

  • strengthening connectivity between and within city regions 
  • ensuring the North develops, attracts and retains skilled workers 
  • making the North a great place for enterprise and innovation 
  • promoting trade and investment


Combined Authorities in the North East

A combined authority (CA) is a legal body set up using national legislation that enables a group of two or more councils to collaborate and take collective decisions across council boundaries. CAs allow member councils to be more ambitious in their joint working and take advantage of powers and resources devolved to them from national government. They are locally owned and have to be initiated and supported by the councils involved.

There are currently three combined authorities in the North East:

Tees Valley Combined Authority is proceeding with an enhanced devolution deal. On 4 May 2017, residents of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees elected Ben Houchen as the first Tees Valley Mayor.

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.  

The North East Combined Authority have not made any announcements about progressing a devolution deal with Government.

For more information about combined authorities and the role of the VCSE sector please visit our relevant webpage.


Local Enterprise Partnerships

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are local business-led partnerships between local authorities and businesses and play a central role in determining local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs. Each LEP is responsible for developing and implementing Strategic Economic Plans (SEP).

In the North East there are two LEPs:

  • The North East Local Enterprise Partnership brings together business leaders, universities and elected members of the North East Leadership Board.  It is the fourth largest local enterprise partnership in the UK, covering the local authority areas of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
  • The Tees Valley LEP (what was Tees Valley Unlimited) comes under the authority of the Tees Valley Combined Authority. 


Key Contacts