Innovative plans to boost economic growth
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If agreed, this would be the only deal of its kind in the country, which could unlock more than £500 million of extra income to be reinvested across the region to boost economic growth and jobs.
The plans, being considered by all four unitary authorities in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, the LEP Board and the Cabinet Office by the end of July, would see proposals to kick start economic growth with the rewards of this growth being retained locally.
Under the draft deal, the government is planning to allow the West of England authorities to keep all of the income generated from business rates growth across the five enterprise areas and the enterprise zone over the next 25 years, to spend on strengthening the local economy, in line with the Government’s recent spending round.
This extra money would be pooled by the four councils along with the revenue from the Temple Quarter enterprise zone into a West of England Economic Development Fund, intended to support an investment programme worth up to £1 billion.
The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership would then decide where to invest the money to create new jobs and attract private sector investment in the area.
The Enterprise Zone and Enterprise Areas are a network of priority employment site opportunities across the West of England with significant economic growth potential, each with a unique investment offer. Three of the enterprise areas are located in South Gloucestershire at Filton, Emersons Green and Severnside, with one in Bristol at Avonmouth, and the other two are in Bath city centre and North Somerset at Junction 21 of the M5. An enterprise zone is located in Bristol at Temple Quarter.
In a joint statement, Cllr Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council and Cllr John Calway, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said: “This unique deal with government promises to be a real shift of power from Whitehall, securing a 25 year income stream enabling us to drive growth locally and retain the rewards locally, rather than passing a proportion of the business rates back to central government. Our aim is to work in partnership to collect the business rates which would then be reinvested into specific local projects.
“The West of England’s economy is already more dynamic than other cities in England and this deal could contribute significantly to our continued economic prosperity, creating thousands of jobs for people across the region. The Economic Development Fund would also contribute towards a £1 billion investment package to support local growth over the next 25 years which would deliver many exciting projects for people living and working in the West of England.”
Colin Skellett, Chair of the West of England LEP, added: “This is the clearest demonstration yet of the benefits of partnership work. The deal will underpin major investment to deliver faster economic growth and more jobs.”
If the proposals are adopted by the four councils, a legal agreement will be drawn up between the West of England authorities, the LEP and the Cabinet Office before the incentive comes into operation in April 2014.
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