Chancellor selects Cumbria as one of 37 ‘Investment Zones’

THE GOVERNMENT is in discussion with local leaders to establish Cumbria as an “Investment Zone” along with 37 other regions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced.

Creating Investment Zones throughout the UK was just one of a raft of measures announced by new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his mini-budget on Friday.

If council leaders are in favor, the Investment Zones will mean lower taxes for businesses, “wider support for local growth” with a funding settlement for the areas led by an elected mayor and accelerated development.

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Sites will be marked-out for development, releasing more land for housing and commercial buildings, with a reduced need for planning applications.

Workington MP Mark Jenkinson said: “Since before my election, as Deputy Leader of the council, I was lobbying the Government for Enterprise Zones in Workington. They featured heavily in My Plan for the Workington constituency

“Today’s announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow Lillyhall and Oldside to be at the forefront of our new Investment Zones, and I urge the local authorities to submit an application to that effect without delay.”

Mr Kwarteng’s mini-budget also brought a cut to income tax and stamp duty – an added amount when you buy a priority.

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Member of Parliament for Penrith and the Borders Neil Hudson said: “Rising energy costs have dominated my discussions and meetings with constituents over recent weeks and I share their concerns, and I’ve consistently called for support since the new year. I’m really pleased that the Government has listened and is stepping in to help households and businesses.”

“I thank the new Government for making sure those in rural areas, such as ours, who use heating oil are eligible for discretionary funding to make sure nobody is left behind, no matter how rural their home or business. But I have had further meetings this week with Ministers and am urging that the support for people off the grid in our communities who use heating oil and LPG is bolstered further.

“Closer to home, I’m really pleased the Government has prioritized the A66 upgrade and Project Gigabit for acceleration, and that they’ve entered into discussions with Cumbria County Council on establishing an Investment Zone to boost growth in our county.”

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But the Liberal Democrats have called the fiscal statement “a budget of leveling down.”

Brian Wernham of Cumberland Council’s Lib Dem group said: “The stamp duty threshold for those buying expensive houses in London has been increased by £150,000. The scrapping of the top 45p tax rate will give those who had been paying it an average £10,000 cut – with the richest saving more. Again, the top earners in the South of England will gain an enormous amount of money. For ordinary people in Carlisle the one penny reduction in income tax will make virtually no difference.”

But Carlisle MP John Stevenson said: “Too often development and investment is prevented or delayed by lengthy planning processes – this is wrong and needs to be overcome if we are serious about economic growth.

“That is why I welcome news that the north west has been selected as the home of 6 of the 38 new Investment Zones and becoming a hub for growth, as the Government slashes red tape and incentivises investment to increase productivity and create jobs in our local community.

“By investing in the infrastructure our country needs and reducing the cost of doing business, we are creating jobs and opportunities across the north west and laying the foundations for a strong, competitive, economy.”

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