Peter Gibson: What assessment he has made of the potential impact of investment zones on the performance of the economy.
John Stevenson: What assessment he has made of the potential impact of investment zones on the performance of the economy.
John Glen: I would like to inform the House that the Chancellor is not with us today because he is at the G7 in Japan.
The refocused investment zones programme will grow the UK economy and bring investment to areas that have traditionally underperformed economically. The programme will catalyse 12 high-potential, knowledge-intensive growth clusters across the UK, including four across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in our key future sectors.
Peter Gibson: I warmly welcome the Government’s announcement that the Tees valley will be the location of one of their new investment zones, and this £80 million investment will unlock new opportunities for my region. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is further evidence of levelling up for Darlington and the Tees valley? Can he outline a timescale for when we will see things start to happen?
John Glen: The Tees Valley investment zone will boost productivity and drive sectoral growth while providing benefits for the local communities that my hon. Friend represents. The Government want to make rapid progress on delivering investment zones. We are engaging with partners to ensure that we can support those with the ambition to move at speed, and we intend to have all proposals agreed by the end of the financial year, and sooner if at all possible.
John Stevenson: Business investment and wealth creation will clearly be central if we are to rebalance the economy and close the gap between less successful and more prosperous areas. Would the Minister therefore agree that prioritising investment zones in areas that need a helping hand is the right course of action? And does he envisage an investment zone in the borderlands area in the near future?
John Glen: My hon. Friend is tireless in his advocacy for his constituents. The areas of England that are eligible to host an investment zone were identified through a rigorous analytical assessment that reviewed every place in England and shortlisted based on their strengths in innovation, productivity, potential and levelling up need, as well as the strength of local leadership, knowledge assets and sectoral strengths.
The borderlands area is already benefiting from the £452 million borderlands growth deal, which was signed just two years ago and aims to create 5,500 jobs. My hon. Friend is also familiar with the recent £134 million investment signed off through the housing infrastructure fund, leading to 10,325 homes in St Cuthbert’s garden village.