West Yorkshire revealed as UK's third investment zone ahead of Autumn Statement

Tue 21 Nov 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett and Richard Cree
Trade News

West Yorkshire has been unveiled as the UK’s third investment zone, the Treasury announced yesterday (20 November).

The zone will focus on the cities of Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds. The treasury hopes that this scheme creates more than 2,500 new jobs over the next five years, unlocking over £220m of investment.

The West Yorkshire Investment Zone is expected to focus on life sciences and health tech, partially based on the cluster of pre-existing businesses already active in the area.

Autumn Statement

Ahead of the Autumn Statement tomorrow (22 November), the government also confirmed that the investment zones programme in England will be extended from five to 10 years.

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, said the initiative would mean “thousands more jobs in the exciting industries of the future, backed up by better infrastructure, and communities to be proud of.”

Hunt launched the West Yorkshire Investment Zone alongside West Yorkshire mayor, Tracy Brabin.

Brabin said:

“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.”

Previous announcement

In July, South Yorkshire was announced as the first of the UK’s Investment Zones, followed in the same month by the Liverpool City.

The South Yorkshire zone is based around the high-quality manufacturing sector, whereas the Liverpool City Region is focused on life sciences.

The idea of Investment Zones was first announced by then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his 2022 “mini budget”. His successor, Jeremy Hunt, made changes to the policy, reducing the number of sites to 12 as part of the 2023 Spring Budget package.

Responding to the 2023 budget, IOE&IT director general, Marco Forgione, said the policy would “accelerate much-needed research and development in the UK’s ‘most budding industries’ and this is essential to ensure the UK remains competitive in trade in services.”

Future zones

Five more investment zones are due to be announced in England while two more are expected in Scotland, in Glasgow City Region and the North East of Scotland.

The government has confirmed that talks are ongoing with the Welsh government.

Commenting on this announcement, IOE&IT lead for FDI and Investment Zones, Kiera O’Keeffe, said:

“It’s great to see this policy coming to fruition and to see each of the zones as they are announced. We know these zones are a powerful tool for encouraging businesses in the regions to collaborate and work more effectively together for the good of not only the immediate local economy, but for the good of the whole UK.

"It’s vital we work together, using schemes like Investment Zones, to help all the UK nations and regions play to their strengths and deliver to their maximum potential.

“The West Yorkshire Investment Zone will be able to leverage its leading life sciences capabilities and the innovation from its universities, as well as strengthening capacity across the wider Northern Powerhouse region in terms of the life sciences sector.”