REGIONAL NEWS: Chancellor George Osborne unveils £60 million growth plan for the Midlands

Chancellor George Osborne pictured during a visit to Derbyshire company Street Crane in March. Photo by Michael Allen Photography.
Chancellor George Osborne pictured during a visit to Derbyshire company Street Crane in March. Photo by Michael Allen Photography.

Chancellor George Osborne was in the region this morning, setting out his plans to create a Midlands Engine for growth in the UK.

He visited rail engineering firm Garrandale, in Derby, where he announced proposals to increase the personal tax free allowance to £12,000 during this Parliament, to create a further 600,000 apprenticeships and to make £60m available for a new ‘Energy Research Accelerator’ in the Midlands.

He said the increase in tax free personal allowance would benefit four million people in the Midlands.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) would build on the expertise of six leading Midlands universities, the British Geological Survey and the surrounding industrial base to deliver a step change in energy research and development, helping to secure the UK’s leadership position in the sector.

East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) generated an audience of more than 130 regional business leaders, all keen to hear the government’s plans to boost the local economy.

Chamber Chief Executive George Cowcher said: “Over the past five years, the Midlands, and the East Midlands in particular, has time and again demonstrated itself to be a national leader in terms of generating jobs and economic growth and it’s extremely encouraging to see that the government wants to harness these strengths to ensure the region can continue to drive the national economy.

“This region is the UK’s manufacturing heartland, with further strengths in construction, logistics and professional services. A strong rural economy and a number of good-sized towns and cities also make for strong leisure, hospitality and retail sectors.

“It is home to a number of Tier 1 companies, well-established supply chains, a host of traditional family-run businesses alongside more hi-tech start-ups and is well-supported by centres of innovation and excellence at its universities. Its central position gives good connections to the north and south, with work underway to improve connections east and west. It also has strong international connections with the UK’s largest pure freight airport and a many, many businesses active in markets around the world

“The region has a broad-based and balanced economy, with real strengths in manufacturing and engineering and these are key sectors which need to be supported in order to secure the long-term success of the local and national economies.

“The East Midlands has created jobs as fast as any other region in the UK over past 12 months and its growth has continually outperformed other parts of the country. However, in order to take this good growth and make it great, it needs to deliver the skills the country needs to grow, the infrastructure - road, rail, air and broadband - required to compete globally over the coming decades, and the regulatory environment conducive to business success, led by common-sense as opposed to box-ticking. Businesses looking to grow also need access to the funding and support they need to move on to the next level.

“This region is the key link in chain between the south east and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, so it’s good to see the Government using its strengthened mandate to introduce measures which will maintain and build on the momentum that businesses in the East Midlands have driven over the past five years, by introducing a coherent plan to underpin infrastructure investment, job creation and economic growth.”