The Chancellor is set to announce new low-tax “investment zones” across the UK in today’s Budget in a bid to boost growth and help “level up” areas outside of London.

Jeremy Hunt is expected to reveal 12 zones clustered around universities.

The Independent says eight areas in England have been shortlisted to host investment zones.

The UK Government is also reported to be working with devolved administrations to establish the final four locations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Treasury said each zone would get £80million of support over five years – including generous tax incentives to attract businesses to left-behind parts of the country.

The zones will be clustered around universities and research centres and will be focused on driving growth in key sectors – technology, creative industries, life sciences, manufacturing and the green sector.


The unveiling of these investment zones comes hot on the heels of Cromarty Firth and Forth being awarded green freeport status earlier this year.

In a similar set-up, both locations will benefit from lower taxes and light-touch regulations with a net-zero slant.

Also in today’s Budget, there are hopes that Scotland's first carbon-capture-and-storage facility will finally get UK Government support.

The Acorn project at the St Fergus gas terminal will pipe harmful greenhouse gas emissions out to the North Sea for storage.

There have been hints this week that funding might be coming in today’s statement from the chancellor.

In the lead-up to the Budget, the Treasury announced a "reset" with "unprecedented investment in domestic carbon capture" totalling £20billion over the next 20 years.


Me Hunt will be delivering his maiden Budget against a backdrop of falling global inflation and lower predicted borrowing costs as pressure grows for him to abandon a tax raid.

The Telegraph says the chancellor will pledge to deliver “long-term, sustainable growth” a day after official figures showed US inflation fell in February, in a boost for hopes that a downturn in developed economies can be avoided.

Data showed price rises falling from an annual rate of 6.4% in January to 6% in February, cementing bets that the Federal Reserve will not have to step up the pace of rate increases to keep a lid on prices.

Lower American borrowing costs are likely to bring down the peak for interest rates across the Western world.

The picture suggests an increasingly-benign economic environment for Mr Hunt's Budget, but he is still expected to press ahead with an increase in Corporation Tax and other measures intended to steady the public finances - despite resistance from senior Tories.

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