Cumbria LEP reacts to Chancellor’s mini budget

Kwasi Kwarteng has delivered his first budget update to Parliament. Credit: PA images.

A business leader has welcomed proposed investment zones in Cumbria - but has warned other areas must continue to prosper.

Jo Lappin, chief executive of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, was responding to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget.

Part of the announcement included the creation of investment zones with tax and rates relief arrangements.

Sites in Barrow-in-Furness and the wider Workington and Cumbrian coast have been identified as potential areas for the zones, with the Government beginning engagement with councils to seek local buy-in.

Jo Lappin, chief executive of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Cumbria’s business community has had to weather a succession of damaging storms, from the impacts of Covid-19 to the inflation, energy and cost of living crises.

"It’s encouraging to see the Government actively looking at ways to support both individual businesses and stimulate wider long term economic growth – whether through tax cuts, widening of the criteria for seed investment or plans to streamline the process for larger infrastructure projects such as road and rail.

“Clearly, we welcome the opportunity presented by investment zones and the intention to create two new high-growth areas in Cumbria to unlock more inward investment.

"We just need to manage this carefully to make sure that areas outside of the new zones continue to grow and prosper.

"We also need to make sure that the new policies help to create a level playing field for all areas and that major opportunities are equally available to Cumbria as well as the major cities."

The statement included previously announced interventions such as support for households as well as businesses and schools with energy prices.

The Chancellor says the approach ‘The Growth Plan 2022’ is aimed at reducing inflation and stimulating economic growth, with wide-ranging plans such as cutting taxes including a reversal of the National Insurance rise and scrapping cap on banker bonuses.

He also unveiled plans to bring forward a bill to streamline the process for nationally significant infrastructure projects – including transport, energy and digital projects.