MAAs, LAAs, City Regions and Sub National Reviews

MAAs, LAAs, City Regions and Sub National Reviews

In comparison with other regions, the North East of England continues to display limited prosperity and growth in gross value added, productivity and employment. In particular, the low-skilled labour force constitutes an impediment to a rapid transformation of the region’s economy.

The regions urban core performs relatively well compared to a group of other medium-sized and formerly industrial regions undergoing economic transformation, but lags behind its European competitors on a wide range of factors such as GDP per capita, innovation levels, connectivity, social cohesion, quality of life, decision-making capacity and connections with their wider regions.

Faced with domestic and international challenges, the region needs to take a strategic approach in order to build critical mass and to compete. Better integration to build the required critical mass and strengthening the existing concentration of growth factors in the urban core are keys to this process.
Crucially, the region needs to develop a mixed economy based on the continued upgrading of the current industry strengths and technical capabilities in the manufacturing sectors, and the fostering of growth in new knowledge-intensive services sectors.

A key objective of the UK Government has been to improve sub-national economic development and tackle pockets of deprivation across the UK. Reforming regional governance structures so that they are better able to meet the challenge of the global economy and respond to economic change was a key driver in this reform. Local Authorities have been given new powers and incentives to drive local prosperity, economic growth and regeneration, tackle social deprivation and inequality and the SNR set out how Government can best build on steps already taken to devolve powers and resources to the most appropriate levels.

The streamlining of local government in the region to 12 strategic authorities has been underpinned by the desire to create sub-regions most notably in Tyne and Wear and the Tees Valley (which has led to new sub-regional Boards such as the Tyne and Wear Transport Board to be created) whilst at the same time local government has been encouraged to agree Local Area Agreements between public sector partners and Multi-Area Agreements between strategic regional partners to provide value for money and improve service delivery within their boundaries.

Further, there has been the creation of a Regional Leaders Board which brings the 12 Council Leaders and the Board of ONE North East together to think “regionally and strategically.”
This seminar will consider the regions Governance structures and examine whether they actually enhance the regions chances of closing the prosperity gap between the South and the North of England or whether it has led to a myriad of bureaucracy which is stifling business growth.

In particular:
• Are the regions governance structures “fit for purpose” and enable regional, sub-regional and local partners to tailor solutions to their specific problems, making best use of available talent and opportunities?
• Are decisions taken at the right level to be effective and do decision makers have the right tools at their disposal?
• Do the new structures help places provide an economic environment that enables business to adapt to and create new technologies and opportunities, encouraging them to grow and create jobs and wealth in a low carbon economy and reduce the disparities between the regions?

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