Labour Candidate Kim McGuinness elected as North East Combined Authority mayor

Author: Amy Coates

In last week's election, Kim McGuinness was elected as first mayor of the newly formed North East Combined Authority (NECA). The combined authority which comprises of seven local authorities including County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland brings devolution power to the region and more than £6bn investment over the next 30 years. 

So, what does that mean for the North East Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector? 

We had the opportunity to meet with Kim at our VCSE Hustings last month where she spoke about her engagement, understanding and support for our region and our sector. 

Her key priorities for the VCSE sector include building stronger business support to allow smaller charities to thrive, this includes making grant giving easier, recognising when charities are best positioned to support communities and giving them the funding and support to do so. She would like to give the sector a proper seat at cabinet tables, allowing VCSEs to feed into conversations at every level on how communities can be strengthened and poverty can be reduced.

During the hustings, the labour party candidate pledged to support organisations in making the North East a living wage region saying she will identify how we can create good quality work with higher wages. Employers who want to work with local authorities will also need to show how they will help to tackle poverty. Kim also wants to raise the standard of expectations around work and make sure VCSE are engaged and supportive in sharing the voice of communities. 

In many of Kim’s responses, she spoke about the need for better collaboration between sectors and the importance of listening to the VCSE sector, who already play an important role in engaging with and supporting some of the most in need people and communities across the region. 

Speaking about healthcare and particularly the stark health inequalities across that North East, Kim spoke of a need to convene across sectors around poverty and the breakdown of public health services, identifying the key areas that need to be tackled and how sectors can work together to do that. The same applied in creating opportunities for cross-sector collaboration to enable community-based sustainability and take climate action. Kim highlighted the need to get better at convening cross-sector conversations so that organisations can learn from each other in a much more constructive and supportive way. 

 Finally, Kim McGuiness agreed to our ask on behalf of the VCSE sector to commit to securing resources and appointing VCSE sector representatives across cabinet tables to enable meaningful engagement and involvement in NECA.

We look forward to seeing and being involved in the opportunities that develop as NECA and the new mayor settle in and make the most of the devolved powers that the region now has. 

Find out more about NECA and the Devolution Deal here.