West Yorkshire investment zone revealed with region set for over £200m for life sciences
Today the Chancellor announced that the scheme covering Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield could help create more than 2,500 jobs, building on the life science and digital technology which the area excels in.
The initial investment from the private sector includes £5 million from Paxman Scalp Cooling, which supports patients to minimise hair loss during chemotherapy, as well as £21 million from Dedalus who are investing £21 million to deliver digital and diagnostic tools for the NHS.
This is the second investment zone announced by the Government in Yorkshire, after it unveiled the first scheme in the country around Sheffield earlier this year, focusing on advanced manufacturing.
West Yorkshire’s investment zone however is set to deliver less investment and fewer jobs than its predecessor which was hoped to secure £1.2 billion of private funding and support more than 8,000 jobs.
The Chancellor has also confirmed that the Treasury will also double the amount of funding and tax reliefs to £160 million over 10 years, rather than the £80 million over 5 years that was previously allocated.
The pots can be used flexibly between spending on skills, research, development and infrastructure around the region’s top universities, as well as tax incentives such as business rate relief and a 100 per cent first-year capital allowance.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Hunt said: “It's a big coup for West Yorkshire.
“It's also about creating the businesses that mean that people get well paid jobs throughout the UK, and not just in London in the southeast.”
The move comes ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement on Wednesday which is understood to give targeted support for small businesses (SMEs), which make up some 96 per cent of the businesses in West Yorkshire.
“This is going to be an Autumn Statement for growth,” said Mr Hunt, adding that “we have turned a corner with the British economy now that inflation has halved”.
“Nothing matters more to that growth than SMEs. In West Yorkshire, with life sciences and technology, we have more start-ups than anywhere else in Europe but they tend to be smaller companies.”
The region has over 600 life sciences companies, 250 MedTech firms and over 90 digital health companies which are set to benefit from the investment and research opportunities.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: “We know that devolution is working for West Yorkshire and this new investment zone is further recognition of that from the government.
“Home to NHS England, our region’s digital and health tech businesses are driving forward innovation and transforming the lives of patients world-wide.
“This investment is a massive vote of confidence in our top-tier universities and talented graduates and will help our mission to build a stronger, brighter region that works for all."
The extension of investment zone financing from 5 to 10 years will also be mirrored in the window for Freeports to claim tax reliefs in England.
The extension until 2031 means that freeports such as those in Hull and on Teesside will be able to provide greater certainty going forward for businesses looking to invest.
It comes after The Yorkshire Post revealed that Levelling Up minister Jacob Young is still responsible for Freeport policy, despite an apparent “conflict of interest” over his previous positions on Teesside freeport boards which meant he had to recuse himself from directly working on Teesworks policies in Government.