Solent Freeport announced in Chancellor’s Budget

Welcome news on Solent Freeport, budget will help many with final push, but much more needed for those still left out, say small firms

Man punching the air whilst reading a mobile phone

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget Speech in the House of Commons, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Development Manager for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Nicola Bailey said,

The fact that the Solent’s ambitious bid for Freeport status has been shortlisted by Government is a real boost for the wider Solent area.

“The proposal has the potential to attract £2billion investment and create 52,000 jobs; through opening the potential to bring tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and streamlined planning processes to promote regeneration and innovation which can only be positive for the whole Solent economy.”

Arnold: Vital decisions are guided by business
FSB’s lead member on Isle of Wight, Norman Arnold, said,

“The Freeport is a fabulous opportunity across the Solent area for businesses of all sizes to benefit from a significant step change in Government economic policy.

“It is vital that the decisions made about how the Freeport area will operate are guided by business if we are to see the maximum gains in employment opportunities and the minimisation of bureaucracy.  FSB will work hard with stakeholders to see that the benefits from the Freeport reach small businesses”

Bailey: What’s now needed
On how the budget will impact small firms, Nicola Bailey, said,

“This Budget will help many small firms with their final push through to September. Ensuring the newly self-employed can now access support marks a big step forward – we’re pleased to see our campaign has been heard – but directors, who appear to have been left out yet again, will be incredibly disappointed.

“Thousands of small businesses are on the brink of collapse and thousands more are suffering from low confidence as cash reserves dwindle. They will welcome both the extension of flagship support schemes that have kept them going over the hardest year they have ever faced, as well as confirmation of new support measures around taxation, employment and cash grants.

“The continuation of business rates and VAT discounts is critical, and it’s important that those in supply chains benefit from them, not just those that neatly fit the definitions of frontline retail, leisure and hospitality. The new super deduction option sounds very promising, and we look forward to further detail on the investments it will cover – it should be made accessible to the smallest firms. Confirmation of pre-announced measures like Help To Grow on management and digital skills, and Restart cash grants, are welcome, and it’s key that the very smallest firms benefit from them.     

“That said, while the furlough extension is much-needed, small employers are still struggling due to high national insurance contributions and the removal of the job retention bonus. The Government should look again at these areas. Fundamentally, there was very little in the statement on job creation and reducing the cost of employment.

“The Chancellor’s commitment to ruling out tax rises until the recovery is underway is the right one. Hikes on those who can bear it the least, with modest profits and large amounts of debt, are self-defeating. The reintroduction of a small business corporation tax rate with a taper is good to see. The taper must be at a reasonable level, especially as directors of small companies have not received a penny in income support.

“It’s important that adjustments to a tax regime that already weighs substantially on the smallest firms are informed by small business expertise. A lot will hinge on the tax announcements due later in March, and the much-needed, delayed downward review of business rates. 

“There is now a question of how we help small firms with substantial debt – a student loan model for repayments and support to adopt employee ownership models both mark constructive ways forward.    

“Maintaining the £85,000 threshold for VAT registration is positive to hear. However, it will not resolve the bunching issue, where firms near that turnover level and stop growing. We hope policymakers will look again at the OTS’ proposal for a smoothing mechanism.  

“While a visa that works for the highest-skilled is important, we would also encourage the Home Office to look closely at where skills gaps exist in the wider economy, not least our vital care sector.

“Company directors will be extremely disappointed to see that they have been left out in the cold yet again. There is still time to fix this entirely solvable gap in the business support landscape and we hope policymakers will take forward the proposals we’ve drawn up with experts in this field.   

“A lot of small firms and sole traders that start to work in the summer will not be paid a penny until the autumn. The Government must reinvigorate its mission to end our late payment crisis, a mission which has been eclipsed for too long.      

“Support measures should continually evolve. The challenge over the summer, and leading up to the autumn statement, will be to switch focus from survival to growth. We look forward to working with policymakers on that progression.”   

News shared by Nicola on behalf of the Federation of Small Businesses. Ed

Image: Andrea Piacquadio under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021 3:20pm



Filed under: Business, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Small Business, Top story

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5 Comments on "Solent Freeport announced in Chancellor’s Budget"

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So-called ‘freeports’ sound like a scam to me, just an invitation to corruption and tax avoidance. This is surely a desperate move by the government to try to compensate fot the damage caused by Brexit.

Freeports!!! Fabulous idea – couldn’t have been done when we were in the EU of course. That is the subtext of the Tory Brexiteer message they have carefully fostered, but it’s just another lie. The EU has over 80 Freeports, and we had several up until 2012 when the last one was closed. We closed them because they were of little benefit and aided tax evasion. Meanwhile… Read more »

YaY! Top marks Tory govt!

More de-regulation & imadequate Customs Protections will surely assist UK in becoming THE Contraband & People Trafficking centre of Europe!

Should help swell our GDP too, given UK’s inclusion of Black Economy £££…


Oh, joy a freeport. Worked well before, then? All it will do is relocate some existing businesses and attract the blackmarketeers. What would be better is to remove regulations and red tape that stymies all businesses and set a level playing field for all.

It’s a bit like having Asda and others on the outskirts of town, then wondering why the town centre is deserted.

Mark L Francis

“Mos Eisley Freeport – you will never find a more wretched hive of scum % villany.”
Hey! Didn’t the FSB used to be called the KGB?
All sounds much more interesting than it really is.