Enterprise zones under fire

The Government has been defending its enterprise zone policy following complaints they are falling short on job creation.

The Financial Times said the 24 English zones are well short of their target for employment and could be on course only to deliver 11% of their original target for 2015.

But local growth minister Kris Hopkins said the zones are about delivering long-term, sustainable growth.

“This Government is taking the difficult decisions needed to tackle the deficit inherited from the previous government, and thanks to our long-term economic plan, we’re now seeing the UK economy growing faster than any of our competitors,” he claimed.

“We are investing billions through our growth programmes, supporting thousands of local businesses, securing billions in private sector investment, boosting skills and creating tens of thousands of much needed local jobs.”

He said the Government is working with all the zones to help accelerate delivery and is confident they would achieve significant growth and create jobs as the economy improves.

They have secured £500m of private investment and created almost 5,000 jobs.

In December the National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee reported its belief that Wales’ seven enterprise zones’ objectives are still shrouded in mystery.

All have strategic objectives, have bid for investment and are expected to deliver results, but details are lacking after two years.

“The Committee found it very difficult to establish solid information about their objectives, their funding or how their performance is being measured,” said chair Jocelyn Davies.

“We believe that, if their purpose and performance is to be properly scrutinized, the Welsh Government needs to be much more transparent about these enterprise zones.”

The Committee found that some of the zones are making a difference and there is stiff competition to sit on their (unpaid) boards of directors.

It recommended publication of details of their work, robust accountability and publicity for business rate relief.

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