BRITAIN'S economic recovery will be powered by the creation of eight new Freeports to turbocharge post-Brexit growth, Rishi Sunak announced today.
The Chancellor unveiled the new business boosting measure as he delivered his 2021 budget to the Commons this afternoon.
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Freeports are areas which allow companies importing and exporting from the UK to operate under simplified customs, tax, and planning rules.
They are a key plan of the Government's plan to diversify our trade away from Europe and strike up links with the rest of the world.
And the new blueprint is also intended to play an important part in kickstarting the country's efforts to build back from the pandemic.
Mr Sunak declared: "Our Freeports will have simpler planning to allow businesses to build, infrastructure funding to improve transport links, cheaper customs with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties, and lower taxes with tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment and job creation."
The new Freeports will be based at:
- East Midlands Airport
- Felixstowe and Harwich
- Liverpool City Region
The Treasury says the new rollout of Freeports will be "on a scale we've never done before".
It describes the move as "a policy to bring investment, trade, and most importantly, jobs right across the country".
In the budget documentation, it adds: "Internationally, a Freeport is a place to carry out business inside a country's land border but where different customs rules apply.
"The UK's bespoke, flexible Freeports model goes further, combining customs zones with tax reliefs, planning freedoms and support for regeneration and innovation."
The location of the new facilities in traditional Labour towns – many of them in the Red Wall – is a shot across Sir Keir Starmer's bows.
Labour's leader moaned that the budget amounted to "a treasury office in Darlington, a few Freeports, and re-announcing other funding".
But Tory MP David Davis beamed: "Excellent news in the Budget on Freeports, including Humber. This will greatly increase local investment and employment."
Britain currently has no Freeports but did have seven between 1984 and 2012.
They are allowed under EU rules, although MEPs have they create a risk of "money laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance".
Trade experts have also questioned whether they generate much economic value.
It comes after the Chancellor saved thousands of jobs with extensions of furlough, VAT and grants in a bumper £65billion budget – but stressed the Covid cash must be paid back.
Mr Sunak, delivering only his second Budget since becoming Chancellor last year, confirmed he would extend a range of support measures including the VAT help, furlough, stamp duty cuts and more to get the nation through the worst of the pandemic.
He promised to help struggling Brits with "more support to get people through to the other side of the crisis".
He told the nation: "Much has changed. But one thing has stayed the same. I said I would do whatever it takes; I have done; and I will do."
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