The government launched the UK’s third investment zone in West Yorkshire today, to potentially “unlock” up to £220m of private investment.
The hope is that this opportunity for stamp duty, business rates and national insurance contributions relief would enable the region to create more than 2,500 new jobs over the next five years.
This zone, the third to be announced out of twelve, will be focused on Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds as hosts of universities and life sciences businesses.
The unveiling of West Yorkshire’s investment zone is part of a string of plans expected in the Autumn Statement by the chancellor this week, which emphasizes a focus on private investment and “getting people back into work”.
The government has outlined how this zone will be provided with funding amounting to £80m over five years to support “flexibility” over interventions “dependent on local need” such as skills, research and development and local infrastructure.
Examples include tax incentives such as 100% stamp duty land tax relief, an enhanced structures and buildings allowance at a rate of 10% per annum, an enhanced 100% first-year capital allowance, employer national insurance contributions relief, and 100% business rates relief.
When LGC asked West Yorkshire Combined Authority whether the zone would include tax incentives the CA said a decision had not been finalised and further announcements would be made at later date.
Ministers have negotiated an initial investment of £5m from health tech company, Paxman Scalp Cooling, that manufactures specialist hair caps to minimise hair loss for those undergoing chemotherapy.
Another £21m is expected from digital healthcare company Dedalus, for digital and diagnostic tools for the NHS.
CA mayor Tracy Brabin (Labour) said that this announcement is “further recognition” that “devolution is working for West Yorkshire”.
She added: “Home to NHS England, our region’s digital and health tech businesses are driving forward innovation and transforming the lives of patients world-wide.
“This investment is a massive vote of confidence in our top-tier universities and talented graduates and will help our mission to build a stronger, brighter region that works for all.”
The government has confirmed it will continue to work with the West Yorkshire CA and local authorities to “co-develop the plans for their life sciences investment zone, including agreeing specific interventions to drive long-term growth, ahead of final confirmation of plans”.
Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “We are changing our country for the long term, driving economic growth across all corners of the UK.
“It will mean thousands more jobs in the exciting industries of the future backed up by better infrastructure, and communities to be proud of.”
Five more investment zones are still to be announced in England.
The Scottish Government and the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities are ironing out details for two investment zones, in the Glasgow City region and the north east of Scotland.
Details of the Welsh investment zone programme has yet to be confirmed, as well as any potential benefits for Northern Ireland.