Last edited 08 Oct 2018

Enterprise zones

Enterprise zones are intended to encourage growth and create new businesses and new jobs by allowing simplified planning procedures and through business rates discounts.

The government originally intended to establish 21 enterprise zones in Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) areas. LEPs are business-led partnerships created to drive sustainable economic growth across local economic areas. LEPs are able to bid for enterprise zones.

Enterprise zones are geographically defined areas, usually 50 to 150 hectares, agreed between the LEP and government. Enterprise zones are created in areas of 'economic opportunity', generally on ‘clean’ sites, i.e. sites with few existing business occupants.

Enterprise zones benefit from a number of provisions:

In the 2015 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne suggested that enterprise zones had created over 12,500 jobs and attracted £2bn in private investment, and announced that a number of existing enterprise zones would be expanded and new enterprise zones created in Blackpool and Plymouth. (Ref. Gov.uk Budget 2015 documents.)

In March 2016, Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced that England’s 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships would be able to apply for a share of £1.8 billion to support projects in their areas. (Ref. gov.uk.)

However, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office, also published in March 2016, questioned the transparency of LEP’s and recommended clarification about how they fit with other bodies to which power and spending have been devolved, and suggested that specific quantifiable objectives and performance indicators were set out for the success of Growth Deals.

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