Enterprise zones have made a significant contribution to growing our economy. Those announced in 2012 have contributed to more than 620 businesses and to nearly 24,000 jobs. Nearly £2.5 billion has been invested in those enterprise zones to support our economy and create employment for our constituents.
Daresbury enterprise zone in Weaver Vale employs thousands of people, including 500 scientists working on cutting edge technologies such as big data. With nine enterprise zones in north-west England, does my hon. Friend agree that this highlights the Government’s commitment to closing the north-south divide and rebalancing the economy by building a fantastic northern powerhouse?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We saw in the autumn statement a doubling of enterprise zones in the north of England and investment in the northern powerhouse. He has been a passionate advocate for this enterprise zone in particular and has impressed on me its importance and contribution to our economy. I hope that I might visit it soon with him to see at first hand what he is delivering for his constituents, working with this Government, as we stick to our long-term economic plan.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s question; he is a passionate advocate for his constituency and the enterprise zones that lie within it. I have visited Samlesbury but not yet Warton—perhaps my namesake enterprise zone is due a visit shortly, and I would be delighted if he were to welcome my joining him in attending it. We will offer what support is needed to ensure that enterprise zones are successful, create jobs and drive forward our economy. I am always happy to talk to him about the particular needs in his constituency.
I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman’s question. He knows as well as I do that local government has been asking for many years for the localisation of business rates, which will give real incentives to drive local growth. He also understands that enterprise zones already sit differently within the business rates regime from local authorities, which we will have to take into account as we develop the system.