Millions of pounds of investment could be unlocked in Plymouth as part of a bold budget for business that has been broadly welcomed by business leaders.
Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce has welcomed news that the city’s centre could be made an investment zone by the Government, part of a package of measures revealed today to boost business.
Chamber CEO Stuart Elford says it’s a signal that ministers are finally recognising the potential of Plymouth and the region – while welcoming a ‘mini budget’ aimed at reviving business confidence from the Chancellor earlier today.
Stuart, also chair of British Chambers of Commerce South West, said: “The announcement of an Investment Zone for Plymouth is great news as it will encourage investment and growth in the city.
“Business confidence has been at a severe low, so anything that reduces tax and planning burdens has got to be a good thing. Alongside the Freeport and National Marine Park it seems Plymouth is finally getting the recognition from national Government that it deserves and so desperately needs.
“While the full details are yet to be announced, on the face of it this is an exciting step forward for Plymouth.
“This is also a victory for the country’s biggest network of businesses – the British Chambers of Commerce – and the hard work and lobbying being done by Chambers up and down the country.”
Plymouth is one of 38 authorities invited to work in partnership with the Government to create an investment zone to attract investment and unleash growth.
Details of what Plymouth’s investment zone could entail will be part of a business plan that will be submitted to Government but is expected to include interventions designed to speed up the delivery of proposed housing, retail and mixed use development. Interventions could include:
- Lower taxes – businesses in designated sites will benefit from time-limited tax benefits
- Accelerated development – with designated development sites to release more land for housing and commercial development and to support accelerated development. The planning process could also be radically streamlined. Development sites may be co-located with, or separate to, tax sites, depending on what makes most sense for the local economy.
- Wider support for local growth – for example, through greater control over local growth funding for areas
Other measures revealed in today’s Fiscal Statement aimed at supporting business include reversing the increase to National Insurance Contributions – a long-time campaign issue for Chambers of Commerce and a “big win” for businesses.
Shevaun Havilland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Businesses will welcome many of the measures announced today that should boost economic growth, relieve cost pressures and encourage investment.
“The announcement to reverse the increase to National Insurance Contributions (NIC) is a big win for the British Chambers of Commerce and the business community. This is much needed support for companies during these difficult times.
“Firms will also be glad to see the Annual Investment Allowance made permanent. It is a crucial tool which gives them the confidence to push ahead with investment, and will add greater certainty to their plans, now we know it is guaranteed to remain.
“Business wants to create the wealth that funds Government spending, and plans for Investment Zones, and steps to encourage new funding in our growth industries have the potential to do just that.
“Investment Zones could also finally deliver on the Government’s long-standing promise to level up, if the scheme is truly UK-wide. But lessons must be learned from the past, otherwise they can simply displace growth and investment from one area to another without creating new economic activity.
“This is a bold start, and we now await further detail on the further reforms the Treasury announced, to see if this will develop into a comprehensive long-term economic strategy.
“All eyes will also now turn to the forecasts by the Office of Budget Responsibility in the autumn for reassurance on public finances.”
The Government has set out the proposed tax offer within planned Investment Zones which are designed to encourage investment and new economic activity, supporting growth and jobs.
Businesses in designated areas within investment zones will benefit from 100 per cent business rates relief on newly occupied and expanded premises. Local authorities hosting Investment Zones will receive 100 per cent of the business rates growth above an agreed baseline in designated sites for 25 years.
Businesses will receive full stamp duty land tax relief on land bought for commercial or residential development and a zero rate for Employer National Insurance contributions on new employee earnings up to £50,270 per year.
There will also be capital allowance relief to encourage investment.