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Greater Manchester Given Business Rate Powers

Greater Manchester will be allowed to keep 100 per cent of the additional growth in business rates. Chancellor George Osborne also set out plans to create a new enterprise zone in Blackpool.

In his annual Budget address, Osborne unveiled a package of measures to boost the UK regions including the North West, and pledged to take steps to keep ‘building the Northern Powerhouse’.

Specifically, the Chancellor hailed the significance of the ongoing devolution of powers to Greater Manchester, dubbed Devo Manc. And he revealed that the region would also gain more powers over business rates.

He said: “Our agreement with Greater Manchester on an elected mayor is the most exciting development in civic leadership for a generation – with the devolution of power over skills, transport and now health budgets.

“I can announce today that we have now reached provisional agreement to allow Greater Manchester to keep 100 per cent of the additional growth in local business rates as we build up the Northern Powerhouse.”

In addition, the government announced steps to boost the North West’s enterprise zones. The government will create a new enterprise zone in Blackpool subject to business cases and expand enterprise zones at Mersey Waters and Manchester.

The Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company (BFW EDC) has welcomed the decision to extend Lancashire’s Enterprise Zone to include Blackpool Airport.

It is hoped the addition of enterprise zone status – which comes into effect in January 2016 – could support as many as 3,000 new jobs over more than two decades to 2037.

Bev Robinson, chairman of BFW EDC, said: “This is very positive news for the Fylde coast.

“Blackpool Airport is already an attractive site for potential investors. The enterprise zone status creates an even greater incentive for businesses to choose to invest on the Fylde coast which in turn creates employment opportunities.

“The EDC will now be working with all interested parties in order to achieve the maximum possible benefit for the region.”

Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is very exciting news and I’m pleased that the Chancellor has been persuaded by our arguments.

“The site’s inclusion in the Enterprise Zone will support businesses in new sectors to grow alongside Blackpool’s existing industries, providing new jobs and a real boost to the local economy.”

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