Autumn Statement good news for Yorkshire business

Whilst many of the Autumn Statement headlines were grabbed by George Osborne’s position on tax credits, there were plenty of announcements that impact directly upon business in our patch.

I’m delighted we were instrumental in moving forward York’s biggest economic opportunity, York Central, through establishing it as an Enterprise Zone. This will deliver an additional £1bn of economic growth and 6000 new jobs.

Government also announced a £400 million investment fund for the North. This means businesses in our area will have access to £100m more investment than they would have under previous plans to establish an investment fund solely for Yorkshire and Humber.

Our area also secured an extra £50m of investment in two new centres of excellence based at FERA Science in Sand Hutton. These will add to our rapidly growing reputation as being the centre in the North for the development of agri-food and bio-economy supply chains.

The general consensus is that the Statement was light on austerity, compared to expectations of swinging cuts. However, the axe did fall on Government’s Business Growth Service, with surprising rapidity: Growth Accelerator and Manufacturing Advisory service have already stopped taking on new clients. I have asked the team to pull together thoughts on how we can respond to this sudden change via our Growth Hub ‘How’s Business’, which Government has committed to fund.

The government also cancelled the £1 billion competition funding for Carbon Capture and Storage. This is almost certain to make the proposed Carbon Capture & Storage project around Drax unviable, which is a great disappointment.

There are a number of other elements I would highlight, including:

  • Government reaffirmed its commitment to LEPs with continued funding. This news is welcomed and a testament to the good work carried out by LEPs across the country.
  • Apprenticeships have become a centre piece for this government. This week they announced 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. These will be funded by an apprenticeship levy on the payroll of large businesses. Companies with a wage bill less than £3 million will be exempt, which is welcomed in our economy dominated by micro businesses. The government also announced the creation of an employer led body to up the number of high quality apprenticeships.
  • The government has made a long term commitment to house building, which should help our ambition of doubling the rate houses are built, and trebling affordable homes. The focus on backing small house builders is welcomed as over half the houses built in our area are small developers.
  • Tourism, the lifeblood of many of the towns in our partnership area, has also received a significant boost. The government announced a new £40 million Discover England fund. We hope this money can be used to boost tourism in our patch and continue to put Yorkshire on the map.
  • The government have also reaffirmed its commitment to a £12 billion Local Growth Fund. £6 billion of this has already been committed via existing Growth Deals and we await details over how to access the remaining £6 billion.
  • Our Enterprise Zone Bid for Yorkshire Coast & Country was unfortunately unsuccessful.

 

James Farrar, Chief Operating Officer