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Enterprise Areas

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the benefits of the new enterprise areas; how many areas will be eligible in each Government office region; and what benefits they will bring to the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. [114303]

A key element of the Government's enterprise policy is the recognition that social attitudes, the business environment and specific market failures can present significantly higher barriers to enterprise within the UK's disadvantaged communities. Moreover it is in these communities that the benefits of enterprise are likely to have the greatest social impact through promoting increased economic activity and the creation of jobs. The Government is therefore concentrating particular efforts on the needs of the Enterprise Areas, the most deprived communities across the UK, with the intention of increasing the amount of enterprise in these communities.In England the Enterprise Areas are defined at electoral ward level. The following numbers of wards are eligible in each region.

  • East Midlands—128
  • East of England—55
  • London—233
  • North East—208
  • North West—284
  • South East—60
  • South West—55
  • West Midlands—116
  • Yorkshire and Humberside—123

The Inland Revenue website contains a postcode search tool for the Enterprise Areas at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/so/pcode_search.htm.

Particular measures that will benefit businesses in the Enterprise Areas, including those in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, include the exemption from stamp duty of all non-residential property transactions, which will reduce the costs to business of locating and investing in disadvantaged areas, and the introduction of the community investment tax relief, which is intended to increase the amount of investment in disadvantaged communities.

The Government is also putting in place measures to improve planning flexibility in these areas such as the introduction of Business Planning Zones in the current Planning Bill—these are areas in which there will be no requirement to apply for planning permission where predetermined criteria are met—and taking steps to help local authorities ensure that the planning system is transparent, accessible and affordable for businesses in these areas. These are set out in Budget 2003.

The Enterprise Areas were designated in the Pre-Budget Report in November 2002. Evaluation is being or will be conducted on a number of the policy measures, though no results are yet available. An evaluation of the fiscal measures introduced to stimulate the regeneration of deprived urban areas, including exemptions from stamp duty, is being commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.