Job retention and self-employment income support schemes extended but Sheffield City Region misses out on Freeport.

In his Spring Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced immediate support to help struggling businesses across the UK but delivered a blow for the region as the Sheffield City Region Freeport bid was unsuccessful.

Successful bids were awarded to East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

The Freeports are said to unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment and generate trade and jobs and support the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

Giving his reaction to the budget, Dan Fell, CEO of Doncaster Chamber said: “The decision by the Chancellor not to award freeport status to the Sheffield City Region is incredibly frustrating. This was a missed opportunity for Government to honour its levelling up commitments in South Yorkshire and to catalyse inward investment and innovation in our region. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Freeport status would have accelerated plans for economic development in the area rather than driven them. Significant opportunities still exist in the region linked to our multi-modal connectivity, the iPort and Doncaster Sheffield Airport and we have reason to remain upbeat about the benefit these assets can bring to the wider economy.

“First impressions of the budget more widely are relatively positive. The Chancellor has listened to the Chamber network and others about the need for longer-term support, including for those such as the self-employed that have inexcusably fallen through the cracks previously. Incentives for businesses to invest are also welcome along with other policy interventions that will support a green recovery. The focus on supporting leadership and management in SMEs is very welcome as this will help our business community to innovate and grow; it is an important intervention that will complement existing interventions in the skills system that are aimed at supporting workers.

“Also, whilst they are not going to be based within South Yorkshire, it is a positive move for the North of England that the Infrastructure Bank is coming to Yorkshire and that Darlington will become a Northern Campus for economic institutions such as the Treasury. We hope this will drive policy making that better aligns with regions like ours. Whilst the devil will be in the detail, this instinctively feels like a good budget for business and will go a long way to assuring business communities that the Government is listening to and responding to their needs.”