Confusion over Budget enterprise zones

Businesses based in enterprise zones in Scotland, North Wales, and England are set to benefit from enhanced capital allowances, after announcements made in the Budget, but there is confusion over whether Northern Ireland is to be granted its first enterprise zone.

The areas confirmed in the Budget Report will be London's Royal Docks, three Scottish Enterprise Zones in Irvine, Nigg and Dundee, and Deeside in North Wales from 1 April 2012.

A 100 per cent capital allowance will be given on plant and machinery investment made in designated 'Enterprise Zones' - a Government initiative originally announced in last year's Budget to create new businesses and jobs around simplified planning permission and business rates discounts.

The confusion occurred after George Osborne said the UK would 'look forward to the first Enterprise Zone in Northern Ireland', but failed to include the country in the official Budget Report.

Commenting on the additional support for companies in Scotland and Wales, Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Chamber has long urged for a similar approach in Northern Ireland and will continue to press Government for such an initiative for start-up companies here."

The Chamber of British Industry in Northern Ireland was similarly disappointed by lack of details.

Belfast was also pin pointed as one of ten cities set to benefit from ultra-fast broadband and Wi-Fi connection, although details given were similarly scarce.

The Budget Report also included plans to develop the UK's technology infrastructure by extending Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage to around 60,000 rural homes and along key roads around Belfast, Northern Scotland and North West Wales.