Assisted Area Status permits the granting of additional financial support from Government to businesses in economically disadvantaged locations. The support, which usually takes the form of a percentage of the costs of capital investment, is designed to encourage business to grow, innovate and thrive thus delivering economic improvements in the area. The new map is now going out to consultation and after it is finalised will take effect on 1st July 2014 and last until 31st December 2020.
The breakthrough for the Island came following a meeting with the Minister for Business and Enterprise, Michael Fallon MP in July this year and a subsequent submission from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership made on behalf of the Island and with considerable input from the council and partners. This set out the detailed economic case for the Island to be recognised as having greater economic challenges than other areas in the South East.
Ian Stephens, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council welcomed the news:
“We are delighted that the Isle of Wight has been included in the Government’s initial report.
“Assisted Area Status is one of the significant things we pursued vigorously since in the early months of our administration. Its achievement is one of the council’s main priorities and we have worked hard with partners since May to convince the Government that the Island has a special case.
“We hope that by attracting inward investment and support for local businesses through Assisted Area Status, we will be in a stronger position to help create new jobs and grow the Island’s economy. We recognise that this is only a draft report which could be subject to change, but we will continue to lobby the government and push the Island’s case for Assisted Area Status.”
The Island’s MP, Andrew Turner said:
“This is great news for the Island and testament to the work of all of us who have been campaigning together for a common cause. The hard work that has been put in by the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, the IW Chamber of Commerce, the TUC and so many other organisations is paying off!”