The Chancellor’s proposed Investment Zones have been welcomed as an opportunity to unlock future economic growth and provide high-quality business support, according to a new report.
The monthly SmartRegion report contains findings from the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub’s business engagements as well as from Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, and other business support organisations.
The latest edition reflects on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement which included the proposed West Midlands Gigafactory at Coventry Airport as one of the newly announced Levelling Up Zones, as well as confirming the details of the West Midlands Trailblazer Deeper Devolution Deal.
The Investment Zones could allow companies to have full Stamp Duty relief from business rates, and 100 per cent relief in the first year around capital allowances.
Investment Zones will have a strong focus on research and innovation, skills boot camps, and local enterprise and business support – and Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive Officer of Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, believes this is vital to give businesses the stability they crave and to boost the economy.
He said: “There are some positive measures included in the Spring Statement, with the West Midlands Trailblazer Deeper Devolution Deal being a significant announcement for Coventry and Warwickshire based businesses, and with the indication that the Gigafactory area is intended to be one of the Levelling Up Zones, because that will be key in unlocking future economic growth and for levelling-up.
“It is important because 100 per cent of the business rates that are levied could be retained within the area for up to 25 years so it is potentially a key announcement for our area.
“It is clear from the Spring Budget that providing high-quality support to businesses should really be seen as a key strategic intervention in both the short and long-term, to stimulate economic recovery and success.
“We need to do that to keep pace with our competitors and meet the business expectations of companies that are looking to grow within the West Midlands.
“I’m fearful that what we’ve seen across the West Midlands over the past 12 months in terms of policy changes on how businesses are supported will lead to a fragmentation in the system which makes it harder for businesses to access the support that’s available, not necessarily easier.”
Craig said the Statement was labelled by the Chancellor as a Budget for growth and the chance to focus on removing some of the barriers that have been plaguing UK economic growth for some time, from labour supply to business investment.
He added: “Our eco-system of business support is well established across Coventry and Warwickshire and works well.
“The good news for our business community is that access to high-quality advice will continue to be available as the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub has been reconstituted as a stand-alone entity, and it will continue to help businesses manage the many challenges alongside seizing the opportunities for growth.
“Business growth and long-term success is absolutely key to recovery in our local economy. To deliver this, we will need to ensure we maximise the benefits from the assets we have in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“The fact that we have a young, diverse, and increasingly skilled population is a real tangible benefit for us locally but for many people and businesses it is hard for them to see the opportunities longer-term for them to be able to plan for their future success. So, investing in how businesses are supported is crucial.”