Jury’s out for Scottish business leaders on Investment Zones


AS we approach one year since Investment Zones were first announced by then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in the Autumn ‘mini-budget,’ mid-market business leaders in Scotland are not sold on the Government’s latest strategy to Level Up.  

In Grant Thornton’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* survey, despite almost three quarters (74%) understanding what the UK Government’s Investment Zone policy is trying to achieve, only half (50%) believe the introduction of them will help towards the Levelling Up agenda, in comparison to the 68% national average. 

There is a general feeling within the Scottish business community though that Investment Zones will bring about positive change, with two thirds (66%) believing that being located within one would help to support the local area through resulting benefits such as job creation and skills development.  62% also believe that being located within an Investment Zone would be beneficial to local businesses in the area.  

However, the survey revealed that business leaders in Scotland believe that the twelve proposed locations are not completely adequate. Over half (58%) of business leaders believe that there should be more Investment Zones located in other areas in the UK. Only 16% disagreed.  

Currently, of the twelve proposed Investment Zones to be established across the UK, eight will be in England and two have just been announced for Glasgow and the North East of Scotland.  

Scotland business leaders are also feeling optimistic overall about their revenue growth (78%) and funding position (82%) over the next six months.  

Stuart Preston, partner for Grant Thornton UK LLP in Scotland, said: 

“While there’s clearly some uncertainty about Investment Zones among business leaders in Scotland, it was great to hear that there’ll be targeted support for the Glasgow city region and the North East of Scotland, with up to £80m in targeted investment, tax reliefs and other incentives over five years.  

“This should help our country progress and rival the economic performance of the South East of England. Areas such as Aberdeen – which has exciting plans for a knowledge intensive cluster at its university campus – has exactly the sort of socioeconomic profile that will benefit from being part of an Investment Zone and support the government’s levelling up ambitions.  

“We see the announcement around Investment Zones as an opportunity to support businesses across the country in achieving their ambitions, helping to build our local economy and helping to build a sustainable workforce for the future.” 

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