Economic zones from the age of Thatcher to makea comeback in UK cities
Thursday 24 March 2011
Ed Miliband may think of the Chancellor as "Norman Lamont with an iPod", but Mr Osborne's announcement yesterday of new enterprise zones had more in common with the interventionist Lord Heseltine than the fiscally conservative former Tory chancellor.
Mr Osborne's embracing of enterprise zones marks the revival of a policy begun during another time of austerity – the dark days of 1981 when the Thatcher government faced riots in Britain's cities over its hardline economic policies. Mr Heseltine – humble Michael back then – launched the zones as part of his urban regeneration work as environment secretary and they were part of Conservative policies into the 1990s.
The idea is simple. Take a run-down area and offer tax incentives for companies to move there while relaxing planning laws so new buildings can be built quickly. Public funds for clearing derelict land and improving transport are also part of the mix.
Yesterday the Chancellor promised businesses 100 per cent discounts on rates, superfast broadband and the ability to use more generous capital allowances in zones with a strong focus on manufacturing.
In addition, local authorities hosting the zones will keep all business rate growth for at least 25 years to spend on development in return for relaxed planning.
London's Canary Wharf is the best-known and most successful enterprise zone. Despite its ups and downs, the project has turned desolate docklands into a thriving centre for financial services, shopping and leisure.
But other zones outside the South East have been seen as failuresbecause they targeted areas in long-term decline and created jobs that sucked in employment from other places until incentives ran out.
Richard Grass, head of public sector at Colliers International, the commercial real estate broker, said: "Confirmation of the reintroduction ofenterprise zones is a welcome sign that the coalition is focusing on growth as well as reducing public expenditure, although £100m will be spread fairly thin across 21 different zones over four years.
"To have any lasting impact these incentives need to be focused on areas with high growth potential and which can deliver near term employment rather than just shiny new buildings on derelict land."
In reviving Lord Heseltine's flagship policy, Mr Osborne is donning some one-nation clothes while doling out cuts that recall the harsher aspects of the Thatcher era.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...
£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...