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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Carlisle businesses get shot in the arm for growth

Parts of Carlisle are to get Assisted Area Status, giving businesses access to extra funding and tax breaks to invest and create jobs.

Tony Goddard photo
Tony Goddard

Barrow and much of west Cumbria have benefited from Assisted Area Status for many years, but until now Carlisle has not.

Six wards are included in the new Assisted Area map, which takes effect from July 1 – Belah, Burgh, Castle, Denton Holme, Longtown and Rockcliffe, and Stanwix Rural.

Belah contains Kingstown Industrial Estate while Longtown and Rockcliffe takes in Kingmoor Park.

Announcing the changes, Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Assisted Area Status can be a shot in the arm for growth and jobs across the UK.

“It makes local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and support that can help them to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery, develop and grow. We listened carefully to local groups to identify places where regional aid can have the biggest impact and help to re-balance the economy.”

Businesses in Assisted Areas can apply for regional aid, which is typically offered as capital investment. A firm applying to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, for example, would receive more if it is in an Assisted Area.

Extra help is available for investment in green technologies, research and innovation, and there is a 100 per cent tax allowance for expenditure on converting or renovating unused business premises.

Businesses in Allerdale that have benefited previously include Twoey Toys in Wigton, which built a £900,000 factory with a selective financial assistance grant.

Cumbrian Seafoods in Maryport and New Balance at Flimby also received grants to aid expansion.

Carlisle’s inclusion follows a change in the criteria.

Previously, Assisted Areas were the most deprived communities. But now the Government is including areas of “economic opportunity” where there is potential for business growth, particularly manufacturing.

This change has benefited not only Carlisle but much larger cities such as Manchester and Leeds.

Cumbria Local Enterprise (LEP) lobbied intensively for Carlisle to be included.

It believes that having Assisted Area status will make the likes of Kingstown and Kingmoor Park – which are already seen as attractive locations for businesses – even more appealing.

Gillian Bishop, the LEP’s director, said: “We responded to both stages of the Government’s consultation and we are extremely pleased that the new map is in line with the board’s preferred option.”

Carlisle MP John Stevenson supported the LEP’s call.

He said: “Potentially, this will benefit the area. It gives us the ability to attract funds to support business.

“It’s important we get businesses into Carlisle to create employment. They have to see Carlisle as an attractive place to come and having Assisted Area status adds to the offer we have.”

Tony Goddard, the chief executive of Kingmoor Park Properties, is studying the small print.

He said: “Any offer of financial assistance and tax breaks has got to be good news for the economic growth of the area and the general appeal of Carlisle as a business destination.”

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