Low-tax ‘investment zones’ will do little to boost the economy, campaigners warn

TORY tax giveaways to big business and the relaxation of planning regulations in new “investment zones” will do little to boost the economy, tax campaigners warned today.

According to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on Friday, stamp duty for businesses and residential projects in these zones would be scrapped entirely and employment tax slashed.

The government said it is in discussions with almost 40 local authorities in England about rolling out the zones, which have been dubbed “full fat freeports” by critics.

Changes around planning regulations are believed to include ditching requirements to build affordable housing alongside developments as well as environmental regulations, according to reports.

Mr. Kwarteng said the new zones will “encourage investment” in local areas by releasing land and accelerating development in specific zones.

But the plans have attracted criticism from tax and environmental campaigners.

Tax Justice UK head of advocacy Tom Peters said: “These glorified business parks will do little to boost the economy.

“What they are likely to do is displace good jobs from one place to another and offer fresh tax loopholes for the already wealthy and powerful instead of the productive investment and industrial strategy we need.

“Time and again this government has adopted this race to the bottom approach. Time and again it does not produce results.”

Friends of the Earth described the plans as “deeply worrying.”

“The Chancellor is treating economic growth and environmental protection as mutually exclusive, but they’re not,” the group’s head of policy Mike Childs said.

“It’s this tired thinking that is driving the energy, climate and ecological crises we’re facing.

“We really needed this budget to address the root causes of the energy crisis, restore nature and cut the emissions that cause climate change, but it totally fails on all counts.”

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