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Autumn Statement 2015: 26 enterprise zones created or extended

3 min read

25 November 2015

George Osborne has announced a boost for regional businesses in his jointly delivered Spending Review and Autumn Statement, with the further rollout of the government's enterprise zones – 26 are being established or extended.

Created in 2012, enterprise zones have been a central facet of the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan with the goal of supporting local firms’ growth. Now, 26 new or extended zones have been unveiled, 15 of which will be in smaller towns and rural areas.

Osborne hopes this will spread the benefits associated with the zones to 108 sites across the country, while the government will provide feedback to Local Enterprise Partnerships when applications are unsuccessful and if proposals could be improved for the future. 

Over a third of the new zones will be based in the North – doubling the size of the programme in the Northern Powerhouse.

To date they have attracted over £2.2bn pounds of private sector investment and helped create 19,000 jobs. Businesses which base themselves within enterprise zones can access a range of benefits such as up to 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per firm over a five year period and 100 per cent enhanced capital allowances to firms making large investments in plant and machinery on eight zones in assisted areas.

Carlisle, Dorset and Ipswich were among the locations which have been announced as new enterprise zones by the chancellor.

Carlisle City Council, Kingmoor Park and local MP John Stevenson worked jointly on a submission to the government in hope of a boost for their local businesses.

Kingmoor estates director Ross Nicolson said it was “great news” for the local area, amid hopes the announcement will prove the catalyst for more than 2,000 new jobs.

Enterprise zones also enable firms to access simplified local authority planning through the likes of Local Development Orders that provide automatic planning permission for certain development within specified areas.

All business rates growth generated by the enterprise zone is kept by the relevant local enterprise partnership and local authorities in the areas for 25 years to reinvest in local economic growth and try to stimulate the area.

Government support is also provided to help superfast broadband stretch out across the zone.

Louise Boland, MD at Opus Energy, said the move “signals a clear intent to continue boosting British business and our economy”.

She added that with SME confidence at a two year low “we as a country need to give these small businesses as much help and relief as possible”.

There has been a more mixed reception to the Welsh government’s efforts regarding enterprise zones, with more than £70m spent on them since 2011.

While more than 1,000 jobs were created at the Cardiff and Deeside zones, just seven were created for each of Ebbw Vale and St Athan.

A Welsh government spokesperson said that any like-for like comparisons between the seven zones in question were “unhelpful and misrepresent the local economic conditions and priorities within each unique zone”.