Budget: Midlands to benefit from new investment zones to supercharge economy

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the budget on Wednesday 15 March Credit: PA

The East and West Midlands have been announced as locations for the government's new investment zones designed to help level up the UK's poorest areas.

The zones are a government initiative being introduced to drive innovation and create highly skilled jobs.

The funding boost is set to help supercharge the region's economic growth.

The investment zones have been designed to drive growth in five key sectors:

  • Life sciences

  • Creative industries

  • Digital technology

  • Advanced manufacturing

  • Green industries

The zones will each be backed with £80 million over five years including generous tax incentives.

The aim of the initiative is to bring investment and jobs into areas which have traditionally underperformed economically, but have the potential to be areas of high growth and support the levelling up agenda.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Our Plan for Growth is central to how we drive forward our regional economic recovery as we bounce back from the temporary setback inflicted by the pandemic.

"The right mix of devolved powers, investment incentives and transport infrastructure will help turn that plan into action.

“That’s why this Investment Zones announcement is very welcome news – supporting our efforts to attract new businesses, create high quality jobs and supercharge our economy.

“Investment Zones will make a valuable contribution towards enhancing prosperity for residents right across our region and I look forward to working with local leaders to decide how we best take advantage of this exciting opportunity.”

The government has set the end of the year as the target for announcing locations.

Councillor Ben Bradley, MP and Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "I'm really pleased that our East Midlands Combined Authority plans are opening doors for us, and bringing opportunities like Investment Zones that we wouldn't otherwise have.

"Only areas like ours that are involved in devolution plans are eligible for these kinds of projects, so it's great that our region is at the front of the queue.

“Across the County, and the region we have massive opportunities for growth, like our Freeport, our Development Company, STEP Fusion, and Integrated Rail Plans.

"Investment Zone incentives can only add to that opportunity. We've got so much going on.

“I hope we can harness all of this to ensure that we deliver amazing outcomes for our residents in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

"I look forward to working with Government and local partners on the plans."

Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, said the authority welcomes the opportunity to participate in the co-design of an Investment Zone for Derbyshire and the East Midlands Combined Authority area.

He said: "We’re proud to be a driving force for regeneration and levelling up in Derbyshire and an Investment Zone has the potential to boost economic growth and prosperity throughout our county and the East Midlands.

"We look forward to working with Government, our neighbouring combined authority colleagues, and partners including local district and borough councils, to help turn Investment Zone proposals into a reality for our region."

Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said it’s good to see local government being consulted and working to co-create schemes.

He said: "Proposals for Investment Zones are very welcomed here in Derby – especially relevant given our area’s trailblazing status for advanced manufacturing and creativity, mentioned as one of the key areas – and we look forward to working with Government on developing this.

“The D2N2 area being chosen as one of only eight areas really reinforces our reasons for pursuing a Combined Authority; we want to make the most of every opportunity presented to us, so we can make a real difference to people’s lives. The Combined Authority continues to be a catalyst for the area.”

Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: "I welcome further opportunities to bring much-needed funding to the East Midlands.

"Our region has often been an area of low Government funding, compared to many other areas of the UK, and so it is important that we continue to work with our neighbouring authorities to explore all opportunities to unlock the economic potential of our combined areas."