EFFORTS to create thousands of jobs on the Humber have been given a boost after the Government signalled it is ready to allow huge swathes of both banks to qualify for tax breaks and grants to help attract businesses.
Draft plans indicate that the whole of the Humber’s South Bank from Cleethorpes to the River Trent will qualify for assisted status starting next year.
The status will also be given to a similarly large stretch of the North Bank taking in the Saltend Chemical Park to the east and Brough as its western end.
Areas covered by assisted status are allowed to use public money to support businesses far more than is usually allowed under strict European Union competition rules.
That is likely to prove crucial in efforts to attract major companies to the area as the Humber looks to become a major hub for the offshore wind industry.
The manager at the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Richard Kendall, said: “On balance we’re really pleased with the progress of our negotiations on the assisted areas which will help us to support more businesses to grow and invest around the Humber.
“The status is particularly important for enabling development to take place on our enterprise zone sites.
“With recent signing of the Hull and Humber City Deal and planning permission for the Able Marine Energy Park, the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place to make sure the Humber is in a competitive position to maximise the benefits of opportunities in the renewable energy.”
Large companies in assisted areas are allowed to receive public grants worth up to 10 per cent of the cost of any project that creates jobs.
Small and medium sized companies can receive up to 30 per cent support from the public funds.
The Government is currently reviewing which parts of the country should qualify for assisted area status between 2014 and 2020.
A significant part of the Humber area was already covered but the latest proposals see the zone extended to an additional eight wards.
On the South Bank, Barton, Brigg and Wolds and Burton upon Stather and Winterton wards are added along with Crosby and Park, Town and Frodingham further inland.
Dale Ward, on the North Bank, which covers the BAE plant at Brough which was downgraded last year, is also added to the scheme.
The Government has been under pressure to make the move to support efforts to transform the economic fortunes of the Humber.
Millions of pounds have already been secured from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to support business in the area.
Ministers have also agreed to the creation of a series of enterprise zones across the area offering incentives to businesses which invest in new operations.
The LEP, which brings Humber councils and business together to develop the local economy, is pressing the Government to extend those incentives beyond their current 2017 deadline.
It wants to be able to give companies thinking about investing in the area a greater degree of long- term certainty.
The extension of assisted area status is the latest piece of positive news for the Humber in the wake of last week’s decision to grant planning permission for a new marine energy park at Immingham which promises to create around 4,000 jobs.
The largest single development on the Humber since the Second World War, the Able Marine Energy Park involves 900 acres of land being developed to provide modern quayside facilities for the manufacture, assembly and installation of offshore renewable technologies.
Ministers have also agreed to hand over significant powers and cash currently controlled in Whitehall to be exercised on the Humber. It is estimated the move will help support the creation of around 7,000 jobs, help hundreds of young people into skilled work and the creation of a raft of new businesses.