I am delighted to support the freeport bid for the Solent area. It is time that the Solent region returns to the sea and begins to again harness our unrivalled natural position to facilitate outward growth and prosperity. Freeport status will allow a multiplicity of goods to be processed without customs duties and will provide tax incentives for businesses - ultimately attracting more freight traffic and creating jobs in the area. Additionally, Freeports can offer UK exporters competitive advantages in supplying international markets and attracting international investment dependent on trade connections. To me it seems clear that freeport status will mark the beginning of our shared journey out into the world, allowing us to reap the benefits of a truly Global Britain. I have been working closely with other Hampshire MP's, including Paul Holmes the MP for Eastleigh, to realise this vision.
The proposal has been submitted to the Government by the Solent LEP, alongside local authorities within the region, through the Solent Bidding Coalition. In my view this is a transformational, once-in-a-generation opportunity. Securing the Solent Freeport will rejuvenate local areas and national industrial clusters. Furthermore, it will help create 52,532 jobs across the UK and generate £3.6 billion in GVA, including over 26,000 jobs and £2.0 billion GVA directly in the Solent.
The future economic dividend of bringing forward the Solent Freeport will be substantial for the Solent and the UK more widely delivering the following productivity-related measures and outcomes:
• Transforming productivity to level up the Solent workforce productivity to match the UK average by 2025 and become a regional leader by 2030. This could support an economic uplift in terms of GVA of £244 million a year by 2025.
• Boosting earning potential and closing the existing wages gap with the rest of the South East region to ensure our residents benefit from job creation and increased prosperity, increasing the earnings capacity of our workforce by £20 million per year by 2030
• Regenerating our communities thereby reducing economic deprivation across the Solent by reducing the proportion of our communities falling within the 20% most deprived nationally from 16% to 12% by 2025 and less than 8% by 2030; and
• Carbon reduction to enable the Solent to transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2050, by enhancing resilience to climate change, improving energy efficiency, and stimulating innovation across a range of clean growth activities and applications.
The UK freeport model aims to achieve three principle objectives, which include: Establishing freeports as hubs for global trade and investment, promoting regeneration and job creation and creating hotbeds for innovation. The advantages of freeport status include: Tax Sites with business rates relief and enhanced capital allowances. There will be £17 million of funding granted per freeport with prioritised access to UKRI Innovation funding. The Solent Freeport proposal includes the primary customs site: the Port of Southampton and the Subzones of Marchwood Port & Portsmouth International Port. Similarly, tax sites will include the Waterside cluster, Airport cluster & Dunsbury Park.