If you haven’t been before, visiting the Royal Docks can be a real eye opener. In their heyday they were the world’s busiest docks, A century later, they are eerily quiet. The Royal Victoria, Royal Albert and King George V Docks are just to the east of the glittering towers of Canary Wharf. But with exceptions such as the ExCeL international convention centre, they are remarkably undeveloped. It is a beautiful location with large expanses of water, is connected to the DLR and will be connected to Crossrail. The brownfield land around is an “opportunity”, which investors are starting to realise.
So the creation of a new Enterprise Zone around the Royal Docks – the direct result of lobbying by the Mayor, and announced in the budget – is a real opportunity to boost growth and jobs in East London. The business rates relief given to companies that set up there, and the range of other incentives, will help unlock the potential of the area, and return it to its former position as a thriving place. The transformation could prove as dramatic as that achieved by the last enterprise zone in the area, which twenty years ago ensured that towers rose out of the industrial wasteland that was Canary Wharf.
Overall, the Budget will boost what London specialises in: economic growth. Other measures will show the rest of the world that London is open to business, and help reduce the burdens on Londoners.
The cut in corporation tax and commitment to having the most competitive tax regime in the G20 will be a particular benefit to a city that depends so much on inward investment, and on global firms deciding it is a good place to do business. It will reduce the lure of other lower tax jurisdictions for companies.
The chancellor’s commitment that the 50p income tax band will only be temporary will answer concerns that we are becoming less internationally competitive.
Anthony Browne is an adviser to the Mayor of London