The government has identified eight potential sites for Investment Zones. Watch our webinar recording to find out more about these designations, and lessons that can be learned from similar schemes, such as city deals.

Until recently, the core purpose of Investment Zones was uncertain, but the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, offered greater clarity in his 2023 Spring Budget.

Subject to proposals meeting specified requirements, the government will offer each Investment Zone a total funding envelope of £80 million over five years, which can be used flexibly between spending and a single five-year tax offer, scalable based on the number of sites.

  • £35 million flexible spend, split 40:60 between resource spending (RDEL) and capital spending (CDEL), to use across a portfolio of interventions based on the opportunities in each cluster
  • Tax incentives, which can cover up to 600 hectares across up to three sites, lasting for five years – where sites do not opt for the maximum tax offer of 600 hectares, tax incentives can be exchanged for a greater spend

There are five key focus sectors: digital and tech, life sciences, creative industries, green industries, and advanced manufacturing. The potential sites the government is starting discussions with are all in the Midlands and North.

You can find out more about what Investment Zones may look like by watching our webinar recording.

Wayne Butcher, Schellion Horn, and Abby Agopian were joined by Lynne Miles, City Access Programme Director, Greater Cambridge Partnership to discuss these incentives and the potential opportunities for sites.

Watch the webinar recording

The key takeaways

Up to 12 new Investment Zones

The government has identified eight regions for potential Investment Zones, this short list will be kept under review.  

Investment Zones are a UK-wide policy, and the government is committed to establishing at least one Investment Zone in each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There are five key sector areas of focus

Digital and tech, life sciences, creative industries, green industries, and advanced manufacturing. All Investment Zones will need to focus on growing clusters aligned with one or more of these sectors, to boost UK competitiveness in these high-potential industries.

Indicative split of £80 million on offer: £35 million direct funding and £45 million of tax incentives

Though with flexibility in how this is allocated over the period, with potential to exchange tax incentives to increase the direct funding and leverage further external funding.

Engaging a coalition of partners to develop ambitious Investment Zone

Proposals that will grow local innovation economies around key sectors and deliver benefits for local communities will be key. Places are expected to build on their existing networks of research institutions, businesses, and other local stakeholders, including MPs, to design proposals, aligning with and building on existing local strategies for their areas.

Evidencing benefits will be key to the success of Investment Zones

The complexity of the stakeholder landscape means costs must be managed, but having a clear and robust business case will help support this and the need to stick to a ‘plan’. Investment Zones are about having a clear narrative – not throwing everything at a particular area.

The government reserves the right to reject sites based on cost and deliverability

Therefore, it's important that the business case reflects the many voices involved and a clear description of how the funding envelope will be used, and how private finance will be leveraged against this to maximise the impact.

For more insight and guidance, Wayne Butcher, Schellion Horn, and Abby Agopian

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