First eight freeports to lead regional regeneration drive
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled the UK’s first freeport areas as part of his push to drive investment-led regeneration in the regions.
New freeport hub plans can now move forward at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.
The free trade zones are designated areas where the normal tax and tariff rules do not apply. This allows goods to be imported, manufactured and re-exported without being subject to checks, paperwork, or import taxes.
The wide package of tax reliefs also apply to purchasing land, constructing or renovating buildings, investing in new plant and machinery assets and on employer national insurance contributions.
Streamlined planning processes and government funding will also boost redevelopment and promote regeneration and innovation.
Sunak said the move would stimulate construction and transport links bringing big regional benefits.
He also announced £1bn for 45 New Town deals and committed to move part of the Treasury to a new campus in Darlington.
The Government also confirmed £135m to progress the A66 Trans-Pennine upgrade to get spades in the ground by 2024.
To support Government’s Build Back Better plans across the country, Leeds will become home to the UK’s first infrastructure investment bank.
The bank will have £12bn to release, mainly to provide local authorities with access to efficient finance for high-value and complex economic infrastructure projects.
Sunak said: “The bank will invest across the UK in public and private projects to finance the green industrial revolution.
“Beginning this Spring, it will have an initial capitalisation of £12bn and we expect it to support at least £40bn of total investment in infrasturcture.”
The new infrastructure bank was recommended by John Armitt, the head of the National Infrastructure Commission — an arms-length government body — who said it should start with an asset base of £20bn.
Paul Hamer, CEO of Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “A National Infrastructure Bank, with an initial capitalisation of £12bn to invest in an array of public and private projects, is very good news indeed for construction and the country as a whole.
“It’s clear that government have an intent for ‘Build Back Better’ to be much more than a slogan and to make good on the commitments they made last summer.
“What’s more, in locating the Bank in Leeds, the Government has sent a powerful message that it appreciates the need to level up areas outside of London.”