“There’s no automatic connection between growth and well-being, I don’t care about growth, I care about people being able to pay their bills, that small business has a secure pipeline of work”- Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) delivered an impassioned keynote at the recent Built Environment Networking North-East Development Conference

Driscoll decried how the term “inclusive-growth” had become a “politician’s word” and instead emphasised the responsibility of those within development and the built environment to “focus our minds on the real difference the economy makes to people’s lives.”

The Combined Authority has received £600m in government grants from the devolution deal, with the intention of creating 10,000 new jobs in the region over the next 30 years.

Driscoll explained how the Authority is investing to achieve this, he said: “We’ve set up an inward investment fund to create 600 jobs, that fund has been so successful we’re expanding it to bring in 2000 jobs.”

A community-focus is key to the NTCAs proposals seeking to create a truly inclusive region, Driscoll said: “we are setting up a bank for the people of our region owned by the people of our region as well as setting up community hubs in underused public buildings allowing communities to judge their own wants and needs.” 

The Mayor also has a plan for a community wealth building programme that centres around the proposal for a People’s Bank which he described as “setting up a bank for the people of our region, owned by the people of our region.”

The Combined Authority are also focused on delivering social good through the built environment, which the Mayor outlined: “Our procurement framework uses social value clauses to make sure that public money doesn’t just get the best accounting value but also makes our economy resilient.”

Addressing the climate crisis is a key priority of the NTCA, Driscoll warned of its potentially economically devastating effects and outlined their proposals to radically tackle the issue in the North-East: “Green industrial revolution supporting green industries, creating a community-owned green energy company and sustainable transport and links.” 

Building more housing is a core objective of the NTCA, Driscoll said “we are building affordable homes, including cooperative social housing.”  In addition reaching out across the region is another integral aspect of their plans with the announcement of a Rural Growth Investment Fund.

The NTCA has bold plans using devolution to build a stronger, fairer region, tackle the biggest challenges of the 21st century and ultimately, as Driscoll emphasised, “making a difference to people’s lives.”