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Port Talbot could become an enterprise zone in the wake of Tata job cuts

Up to 750 jobs are expected to be lost at the Port Talbot plant. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Port Talbot could be made an enterprise zone by the Welsh Government in a bid to help the area deal with the impact of yesterday's Tata Steel announcement.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said the creation of an enterprise zone was one of the proposals being considered to provide further potential support to Port Talbot after Tata announced it is cutting up to 750 jobs there.

Read more: Tata confirms 750 jobs to go in Port Talbot.

Enterprise zones are areas where incentives such as tax concessions are given to encourage businesses to invest there. The Welsh Government would require cooperation from the UK government to provide the full benefits.

I have today written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer setting out our proposal to create an additional Enterprise Zone in Wales. An Enterprise Zone that encompasses the Port Talbot site would not only send an important signal to the industry, it would also create a growth environment within which other business and industry could flourish.

However, for maximum impact, such an Enterprise Zone would need the full package of policy levers including Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs). As ECAs are a matter for the UK Government, I have asked for the Chancellor’s early response as to whether the UK Government would be agreeable to this.

– Edwina Hart AM, Economy Minister

Tomorrow, a 'high-level' task force, chaired by Mrs Hart, will meet for the first time to agree the next steps to help those affected by the announcement as well as providing support to the wider economy and steel industry.

Read more: Welsh steel industry needs a 'level playing field' says First Minister.

Representatives from Tata, trade unions, local authorities, the business sector, education, health, Careers Wales and other bodies that provide careers and jobs advice have all been invited.

We are determined to do all that we can to support the employer, its workforce and those in the local supply chain.

The steel industry is a fundamental cornerstone of our manufacturing sector. It sustains thousands of jobs and provides above average salaries, often in areas of below average income. Steel making is part of our heritage and we are committed to ensuring it is part of our future.

– Edwina Hart

Wales currently has seven enterprise zones, which focus on different sectors ranging from finance to manufacturing. The Welsh Government says the zones have created, assisted or safeguarded more than 7,795 jobs in Wales to date and have paved the way for further investment and development.

A spokesperson from the Treasury said that enterprise zones were "a devolved matter", but that the UK Government would "look closely" at proposals by Ministers.

Our immediate focus is working with the Welsh Government to support workers in South Wales as well as other Tata UK sites to find new jobs as quickly as possible, and we continue to engage closely with Tata on how we can help during this difficult period.

Enterprise Zones are a devolved matter, but we will of course look closely at any proposals around capital allowances put forward by Ministers.

– Government spokesperson

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