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Northern Powerhouse

Volume 622: debated on Monday 27 February 2017

In recent weeks and months, we have of course introduced the first northern powerhouse strategy and, more importantly, put £556 million behind it through the local growth funding allocations, with the north receiving the largest proportion from the broader £1.8 billion fund.

I thank the Minister for his recent visit to Pendle and the Government for the £4 million investment that will create more than 1,100 new full-time jobs on the Lomeshaye industrial estate. We have seen strong growth in small and medium-sized enterprises across the north of England in recent years, but what more can we do to help them to grow?

It was a delight to visit the Lomeshaye industrial estate on a wet Lancashire day—is there any other kind?—only the other week, and I thank my hon. Friend for his support for that. On his specific interest in small and medium-sized businesses, just last week I joined other funding partners in launching a £400 million investment fund for northern powerhouse businesses. This will provide loans to businesses of between £25,000 and £2 million, and support our wonderful small and medium-sized businesses across the north.

Small businesses form an important part of York’s economy as part of the northern powerhouse, but businesses are struggling with the new deal on business rates. Overseas landlords are pushing up rents, and that is then pushing up rateable values. What discussions has the Minister had with the Treasury so that in next week’s Budget we will see a fair deal on business rates?

I was in York just last Friday to speak to Make It York and celebrate our funding for the York Central enterprise zones. As the hon. Lady will be aware, business rates bills across the north will be falling, but as the Chancellor and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have made absolutely clear, we are committed to supporting further those businesses that are hardest impacted by rises. Across the north more generally, however, we will see falls in business rates.

As the Minister knows, the Humber local enterprise partnership was recently allocated £27 million under the growth fund. The two local authorities that serve the Cleethorpes constituency are also members of the Lincolnshire LEP. Will he enlighten us on when their settlement is due?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we recently allocated £27 million to the Humber in the growth deal. It is important to remember that, on a per-head basis, that is more than has been received in large parts of the south of England. We will announce in the coming weeks the Greater Lincolnshire LEP allocations that also cover North and North East Lincolnshire as part of the £392 million package for the midlands.