Dorset Council earmarked in plans for low-tax investment zones

DORSET Council has been earmarked as a low tax ‘investment zone’ to help drive growth and could see business rates slashed in the area.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced the creation of low-tax, low-regulation investment zones during his mini-budget yesterday.

Dorset Council is one of 38 local authorities in England in talks with the government to set up zones.

Investment Zones will drive growth and unlock housing across the UK by lowering taxes and liberalizing planning frameworks to encourage rapid development and business investment, says the government.

The Chancellor told the House of Commons: “The time it takes to get consent for nationally significant projects is getting slower, not faster, while our international competitors forge ahead. We have to end this.

“To support growth right across the country, we need to go further, with targeted action in local areas.

“We will liberalize planning rules in specified agreed sites, releasing land and accelerating development.

“And we will cut taxes, with businesses in designated sites enjoying the benefit of generous tax reliefs”.

During the Tory leadership campaign, Prime Minister Liz Truss said investment zones would be central to her plan to boost growth.

More details on how areas can bid to take part will be set out by the Department for Leveling Up.

The government is also considering converting the post-Brexit freeports introduced by Boris Johnson into investment zones, where further deregulation is expected.

The government says that the areas announced so far are the areas keen to be involved now, with more to come.

Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said: “We are pleased that Dorset is being considered for one of the Government’s new investment zones at this early stage. We look forward to further conversations with the Government about the opportunities this could bring.”

On the mini-budget, Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “The Chancellor’s mini-Budget has become more of a ‘maxi’ Budget.

Many businesses in Dorset will welcome the reversal of the increase in National Insurance contributions and scrapping of the proposed rise in corporation tax.

“The income tax shake-up will go some way to offsetting the cost of living crisis for some consumers although it remains to be seen whether this will result in greater spending on goods and services.

He added: “It is important that Dorset does not miss out amid the focus on leveling-up so I look forward to seeing greater detail about Investment Zones and their impact.”

“Confidence is everything and many businesses still face a hard winter ahead but the Chancellor’s measures do give much-needed optimism.

“We are grateful that he has listened to the concerns of business with some bold measures in today’s statement, but he must now use this as a springboard to develop a comprehensive long-term economic strategy.”

The government says it will set out further details on the liberalized planning offer for Investment Zones in due course.

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