DEVOLUTION: Treat figures with caution
Few economists would brave a 30-year forecast of the effects of a relatively small funding increase to local government, especially coinciding with Brexit.
But determination, rather than caution, is the hallmark of the ebullient promotion of the economic benefits claimed for the North of Tyne devolution deal. And haste.
Conceived on November 24, 2017, with extremely limited “public consultation” ending on February 5, 2018, the scheme is intended to be up and running well before the one elected member-to-be of the new combined authority can be elected.
The £600m supposedly assured over the next 30 years would mean (assuming ‘fair shares’) £7m each a year for Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside – a fraction of ongoing government funding cuts to the councils.
An alternative way of raising this sum would be for North Tyneside to raise council tax by one per cent (£11 per year for most homes, which are Band A, £16/year for Band D) to spend on local services, rather than on a new tier of government with world-leading ambitions.
The new scheme requires a council tax increase anyway to fund the new mayor’s functions, and to be determined by him or herself.