An Investment Zone is eligible to receive £160 million in Government cash over ten years, with the money going towards infrastructure, training and tax relief.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today revealed the country’s next Investment Zone as West Yorkshire, focussed on businesses in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield.
This status promises to help bring in 2,500 jobs in these areas over the next five years and could unlock £220 million of private funding.
While it is not yet known precisely how much money Bradford is expected to benefit from or exactly how the money would be spent, Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire’s Mayor, described the Chancellor’s announcement as a “game-changer” – and said the district could expect to receive “many millions”.
Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire’s Mayor
The Telegraph & Argus spoke to Mr Hunt – who visited Huddersfield on Friday – and asked him how the Investment Zone would improve people’s lives in Bradford.
He said: “I think what people in Bradford want for their children and grandchildren is good jobs – jobs which are exciting, interesting and pay well.
“We want to attract businesses from all over the world – it’s about creating high-quality, well-paid jobs.
“This Investment Zone is a way we can attract those jobs to places like Bradford.
“We think this Investment Zone can develop really exciting clusters of innovative, enterprising companies.
“I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this – it’s a coup for West Yorkshire and I expect it will thrive as a result.
“This Government is committed to levelling up the whole country.
“We are changing our country for the long-term, driving economic growth across all corners of the UK.”
A Government spokesperson said West Yorkshire’s Investment Zone is based around the region’s universities in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield, and the “cluster of life sciences businesses thriving in the area”.
They added: “As a result of the Investment Zone, revamped sites specialising in health tech and digital will open up around West Yorkshire, unlocking over 2,500 jobs and over £220 million of investment across the region over the next five years.”
Ms Brabin described the announcement as “incredibly positive” and said it proved the Government had “confidence” in West Yorkshire.
She added: “2,500 jobs and £220 million of further investment over five years – that’s quite a game-changer.
“I’m very excited about what this news means for the T&A’s core area, Bradford, which can expect to benefit from many millions of pounds from this Investment Zone.”
She added: “We know that devolution is working for West Yorkshire and this new Investment Zone is further recognition of that from the Government.
“Home to NHS England, our region’s digital and health tech businesses are driving forward innovation and transforming the lives of patients worldwide.
“This investment is a massive vote of confidence in our top-tier universities and talented graduates and will help our mission to build a stronger, brighter region that works for all.”
Away from the Investment Zone announcement, the T&A asked Mr Hunt to comment on a YouGov voting intention poll on Thursday which put the Tories on 21 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 44 per cent.
He said: “We’ve had our political ups-and-downs in the last year but what I would say is we’re not going to have a General Election this year – when we do have a General Election, I think people will see we’ve made progress on the things we promised we would deliver, whether it’s small boats crossings – which are down by a third, and we can do more on that – whether it’s avoiding a deep recession and growing the economy, whether it’s inflation halved.
“I think in the end, people will vote for the party they think is solving the problems and challenges they face in their daily lives.”
Mr Hunt said he believed the Tories would still be in power this time next year and added: “When people see the progress we’re making, I think we will surprise everyone.
“I fully recognise the challenging period for us now – but I think people will be looking to the future at the next General Election.”