Government announces enterprise zones in BAE redundancy hotspots

BAE Systems might be about to make 2,300 people jobless - but it seems the Government's keen to encourage a new wave of high-tech entrepreneurs.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
As the debt crisis continues to spread its doom and gloom through the markets, here’s a bit of good news: the Chancellor has announced that he’s planning to create two new enterprise zones, covering Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, and Brough in East Yorkshire – precisely where BAE Systems is about to make 2,300 people redundant. Businesses starting up in enterprise zones (there are already 11 of them up and down the country, and another 10 should be introduced over the next few years) get extra support from Government and don’t have to pay business rates. Looks like the heat is on for manufacturers…

For Osborne, yesterday’s announcement must have been a rather pleasant change from railing against critics: he’s come under increased criticism over quite how harsh the Coalition’s austerity measures are turning out to be. As recently as Friday, the (Tory) chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, said the Government’s economic plans didn’t include enough on boosting growth. And then there’s the growing speculation over how a euro break-up would affect the British economy (hint: not well). So at least during his speech at the Conservative Party conference today, Osborne had something encouraging to say…

Why BAE, though? It’s a fairly obvious one for the Government: after all, the people being made redundant from the arms manufacturer are proficient in engineering and high-tech manufacturing – exactly the sorts of skills the Government wants to encourage in the work-force (and unless new businesses spring up pretty sharpish, chances are those skills will disappear in areas like Brough). In fact, on several occasions, David Cameron has affirmed his commitment to boosting the economy by a) increasing the number of manufacturers and b) persuading said manufacturers to export their socks off. So it’s all part of the Coalition’s grand plan.

The other bit of cheering news is that over the weekend, BAE confirmed that it’s managed to wangle an order from the US Department of Defence for 70 M777 howitzers, worth a cool £86m. That should safeguard 380 jobs in Barrow-in-Furness. An indication that, in certain areas, Britain’s manufacturers are going great guns. As it were.

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