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Mayor Welcomes Treasury Minister on Visit to Teesside Freeport

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (9 November) hosted the Exchequer Secretary Helen Whately MP as she visited Teesworks, the site at the heart of the Teesside Freeport.

The Exchequer Secretary said that approval at the Budget for Teesside freeport to begin initial operations this month marks the beginning of an exciting chapter for the region.

Designed to attract major domestic and international investment, freeports are places inside a country’s land border where different rules apply for businesses.

From November 19, the region will have new powers for eligible businesses to access a suite of tax reliefs designed to incentivise new investment within the boundaries of Freeport ‘tax sites’. Subject to Parliamentary process and approval, this benefit will also extend to qualifying Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2022.

During her visit, the Exchequer Secretary was given a tour of Teesworks, part of the wider Teesside Freeport, the UK’s largest industrial zone, focusing on sectors including clean energy, offshore wind, chemicals and materials and advanced manufacturing, including food technology.

The Minister also visited the site of Net Zero Teesside, one of the UK’s first Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) projects and saw where GE Renewable Energy’s wind turbine blade manufacturing facility is set to be located.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Across Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool we are seeing huge investments that are putting our region at the forefront of the path to net zero, and central to this are the developments we are delivering at Teesworks. So, I was delighted to welcome the Exchequer Secretary to the heart of the Teesside Freeport.

“Just eight months since the Chancellor announced that Teesside would gain Freeport status, we’re the UK’s largest and first fully operational Freeport. By making it cheaper and easier to do business, without affecting environmental standards or employment rights, we’re welcoming investments from across the globe, investments that will create 18,000 skilled well-paid jobs over the next five years.

“From offshore wind to carbon capture and developing hydrogen as a fuel of the future, Teesside is leading the way in developing the technologies that will create the cleaner, healthier and safer jobs and communities we all want to enjoy. Make no mistake, Teesside is ground zero for net zero.”

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Helen Whately said: “Freeports like Teesside will be national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, levelling up communities across the UK by attracting new businesses, and creating thousands of high quality jobs for local people.

“It’s fantastic we are already seeing the benefits of this Freeport in the north east with new businesses set to be located here, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity – more important than ever as we begin to recover post coronavirus and level up.”

Jacob Young, MP for Redcar and Teesworks board member, said: “Teesworks is a great example of levelling up in action and I’m delighted that the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury will be on site to see what a transformational difference this development is for our region.

“This is about the Government investing in economic growth, in high-quality jobs for local people and in cleaner, healthier and safer industries.

“Thanks to the UK Infrastructure Bank investment, the first part of the South Bank quay is on track to becoming a reality, supporting GE Renewable Energy’s facility and the thousands of construction and long-term jobs it will create.

“When we took control of this site following the collapse of SSI, we made a commitment to transform it and create the jobs of the future. Through Teesworks, and our plans for the UK’s largest Freeport, we are unlocking those jobs and doing exactly what we said we would do for Teessiders.”

Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “This is the second Ministerial visit in as many months to the Teesworks site, proving that what we’re doing here, and with the Teesside Freeport, is hugely important, not just regionally but nationally.

“Still, helping to create good-quality jobs that local people deserve remains my priority and with all of the exciting projects getting under way on the site, combined with the fantastic opportunities the freeport brings Redcar and the whole of our area, we’re creating them now, for generations to come.”