£80m low-tax investment zone will 'supercharge' economy, says Mayor

A new £80 million low-tax investment zone in the West Midlands will help "supercharge" the region's economy, the Mayor has said.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has hailed plans for an investment zone in the region
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has hailed plans for an investment zone in the region

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area is expected to be announced in today's Budget as one of the locations for 12 investment zones across the UK.

Investment zones, which were first unveiled under Liz Truss's short premiership, will aim to drive growth through measures including tax incentives and specialist business support.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to start discussions with local leaders in the coming weeks over precise locations and plans for the zones.

It comes as the Chancellor is also set to announce a new £1bn devolution deal for the West Midlands, including greater powers over funding, housing and skills.

West Midlands Mayor Mr Street said the region's plan for growth, unveiled last year, was "central to how we drive forward our regional economic recovery as we bounce back from the temporary setback inflicted by the pandemic".

He said: "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."

Of the 12 sites, eight will be in England, with the other four in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are expected to be clustered around research institutes and universities and focused on driving growth in five key areas: technology, creative industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and 'the green sector'.

The Treasury said the cash could be used to offer tax breaks or to provide specialist business support, make improvements to the planning system or for local infrastructure.

It marks a major scaling down of the plans outlined by Ms Truss in October, who had planned to spend £12bn on hundreds of investment zones across the country.

The West Midlands is also set to get up to six 'levelling up zones', which will benefit from business rates retention.

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