Wednesday 3 March 2021 1:56 pm

Budget 2021: Thames Estuary one of eight new freeports

The Chancellor has today used the Budget to announce the locations of England’s eight new “freeports”, including one on the Thames Estuary.

The new economic zones, which offer tax advantages and customs relief to businesses, will provide an “unprecedented economic boost across the UK”, Rishi Sunak said.

Read more: Thames freeport proposal gains weight with new partnership

In addition to the Thames port, the other freepots will be at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humberside, Liverpool City, Plymouth, Solent, and on Teeside.

The sites will be eligible for Stamp Duty and business rates relief, as well as National Insurance relief for employers in some cases.

A further two freeports in the devolved administrations of the UK are still to be announced.

The policy is one of the centrepieces of the government’s bid to level up the UK economy over the coming years.

According to the Treasury the freeports will be up and running by the end of the year.

Thames Estuary Envoy, Kate Willard OBE: “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as a freeport location. We believe that the Thames Estuary is the right place to have freeport status, and are so pleased that the government thinks so too.

“Getting a freeport is an essential part of the Estuary’s recovery and will help it to level-up at this crucial moment in time, post-Brexit and post-Covid.

“The Thames freeport will unlock £400 million of port investment in deprived areas and create more than 25,000 quality jobs, with significant investment in upskilling opportunities.”

Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, welcomed the news that East Midlands Airport had been successful in its bid.

“Today is a day the East Midlands’ exporters and importers will welcome. The Chancellor’s
announcement of the East Midland Freeport will turbocharge our region”, she said.

“60,000 new skilled jobs is the headline figure. Our businesses will be able to take advantage of
exciting new export opportunities. Global Britain is a reality for Rutland and Leicestershire now.

What are freeports?

Free ports are specially designated economic zones where normal tax and customs rules do not apply.

All forms of port are included under the status – ferry ports, airports, and rail ports.

Read more: What are free ports and what are the economic benefits?

In such ports, goods can be imported, manufactured, and exported again without facing standard tariffs or requiring normal customs checks.

Companies which operate within free ports do so with the benefit of paying a lower rate of VAT tax and employment tax, as well as relief when it comes to purchasing land.