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Hunt to back tech hubs with nearly £1bn for Investment Zones

Hunt Investment Zones
Image credit: amirraizat via Shutterstock

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will look to support the development of English tech hubs clustered around universities with an almost £1bn Investment Zone plan.

The funding pledge will form part of a plan to create Investment Zones aimed at boosting money flowing into 12 different regions, with each set to benefit from £80m in support.

The announcement was made by Hunt on Monday. He is expected to reveal more details in tomorrow’s Spring Statement.

Hunt has said he wants to make the UK a tech superpower and turn the UK into “the next Silicon Valley“.

“True levelling up must be about local wealth creation and local decision-making to unblock obstacles to regeneration,” said Hunt in a statement.

“From unleashing opportunity through new Investment Zones to a new approach to accelerating R&D in city regions, we are delivering on our key priority to supercharge growth across the country.”

The specific details of what will feature in these investment zones have not been made clear. However, they will likely see reduced tax rates for businesses, reduced national insurance contributions for employers, and greater support for machinery and equipment procurement.

Hunt’s Investment Zones mirror a policy put forward by the former chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, who suggested even greater business tax relief within specified zones during the premiership of Liz Truss.

Hunt, who has been praised for his work in preventing the collapse of startup lender Silicon Valley Bank UK, has faced mounting pressure from the tech industry to reverse cuts to the R&D tax credit scheme.