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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Greater Manchester leaders bullish on Investment Zone potential

As we approach one year since Investment Zones were first announced by then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in the Autumn ‘mini-budget’, mid-market business leaders in Greater Manchester are encouraged by the blueprint for what it could mean for the selected regions. 

In Grant Thornton’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* survey, 60% of business leaders in the Greater Manchester region said that the introduction of Investment Zones will help towards the government’s Levelling Up agenda. 

Businesses can see benefits to local areas from the introduction of Investment Zones, with a significant number of respondents citing that being located within one of the Zones would help to support the local region, with factors such as job creation and skills development (76%) and be beneficial to local businesses (76%). 

Investment Zones provide a number of financial incentives to local businesses in the area and a clear majority (66%) of Greater Manchester business leaders believe that these incentives, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax relief and 100% Business Rates relief, have been focused on the right areas to encourage business investment. While almost three quarters (69%) also believe that being located within an Investment Zone would encourage businesses to stay within the local area. 

However, the survey also revealed that business leaders in Greater Manchester believe that the twelve proposed locations are not completely adequate, with 72% of business leaders believing that there should be more Investment Zones located in other areas in the UK.   

Currently, eight of the 12 proposed Investment Zones will be in England with at least one of the remaining four in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Eight have already been shortlisted in England, including Greater Manchester.  

Wayne Butcher, Director of Public Services Advisory at Grant Thornton UK LLP in Manchester, said:  

“From our latest tracker, it is clear business leaders in Manchester can envisage the benefits the extra funding will have on the city, which will hopefully help drive long term economic growth and increase opportunities for all who are located here.  

“The majority of businesses in Manchester were also extremely optimistic about business revenues and funding for the rest of 2023, which is great to see after a period of economic and political uncertainty we have all been privy to.  

“That said, there’s clearly an opinion from businesses in Manchester that we need more throughout the UK to really have an impact on the overall economy too, and I’m sure some regions will feel as if they have missed out on these much-needed funding pots.” 

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