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Hunt unveils investment zones to drive growth

Jeremy Hunt: unblocking obstacles

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has confirmed plans for 12 investment zones with specific tax and regulatory rules intended to drive economic growth.

Eight locations in England have been named and the UK Government is working with the devolved administrations to establish four more in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Hunt’s programme is a scaled-back version of a policy announced under former prime minister Liz Truss who wanted the zones to drive growth by cutting red tape, including planning regulation, and offering time-limited tax incentives.

The Treasury confirmed that each zone will be backed with £80m. They will be clustered around a university or other research institution, bringing growth to areas which have traditionally underperformed economically.

In addition, Mr Hunt will set out plans to accelerate the growth of “high-potential innovation clusters” in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands which will share £100 million of investment in 26 “transformative” R&D projects.

They include a net zero project led by the University of Strathclyde to accelerate the adoption of automated ultrasonic inspection during welding and additive manufacturing.

Jeremy Hunt said: “True levelling up must be about local wealth creation and local decision-making to unblock obstacles to regeneration.

“From unleashing opportunity through new Investment Zones, to a new approach to accelerating R&D in city regions, we are delivering on our key priority to supercharge growth across the country”.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Levelling up means backing local growth across the UK, driving innovation to attract investment and putting power into the hands of local communities so they can reach their full potential. Our new investment zones and Levelling Up Partnerships will deliver more jobs, better services and more opportunities for local people.”

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “This government has made clear its aim for the United Kingdom to be transformed into a scientific and technologic superpower, not only pushing our country forward, but the whole world.

“Cutting-edge innovation starts at a local level. That’s why these plans to invest £100m into 26 groundbreaking projects in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are so important, supporting them to become the future centres of research and innovation in the United Kingdom.”

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