Doncaster Chamber explores Freeport status for region

This week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak kicked off his plan for low-tax business hubs to seize the opportunities of independence from Brussels.

The Chancellor will invite bids for at least seven “Freeports” in England, designed to create thousands of jobs and boost economic growth once the UK leaves the EU’s customs union and single market at the end of the year.

Cities and towns with Freeport status will benefit from tax breaks, simpler customs procedures and wider Government support to attract fresh investment from within the UK and overseas. The initiative is a key part of Boris Johnson’s plan to fire economic growth in the industrial heartlands.

The team at Doncaster Chamber believe the area is ideally located for Freeport status, and are supporting the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority’s bid preparations for Freeport status with Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Given Doncaster’s central location and outstanding connectivity, a Freeport would help support the region’s aspirations and encourage more international business. There is also an opportunity to collaborate with Hull to provide multi-modal services to importers and exporters.

Doncaster Chamber Head of International Trade and Business Support, Adrian Platts said: “The UK Freeport model will maximise geographic flexibility in areas with seaports, airports and rail ports, and the business community in the region is highly supportive of this initiative.

“Freeports will be international centres for trade and investment, powering innovation, regeneration, job creation and entrepreneurship. This is a huge opportunity for regeneration and job creation in Doncaster and the wider Sheffield City Region.”

The government proposes combining five sets of measures – customs, tax reliefs, planning, regeneration funding, and innovation – to achieve these objectives by encouraging the maximum number of businesses to open, expand and invest in the Freeports.

The Chancellor said, “Our new Freeports will create national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK, creating new jobs, and turbo-charging our economic recovery.

“As we embrace our new opportunities as an independent trading nation, we want to deliver lasting prosperity to the British people and Freeports will be key to delivering this.”

As well as the seven planned for England, the Chancellor wants at least three more Freeports in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The first Freeports, accessible by sea, air or rail, are expected to open for business next year.