It is excellent news that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today in his Budget that Southampton has been awarded freeport status. The Solent Freeport will cover sites across the region, including the Port of Southampton and Southampton Airport and will facilitate billions of investment and promises thousands of high quality jobs for the region over the next few years.

Goods arriving into the new freeport from abroad won’t be subject to tariffs until they leave the area, providing significant tax incentives for businesses to operate from within the zone. The scheme is expected to attract £2 billion of investment to Southampton and the region and is expected to create up to 52,000 jobs. It will allow the creation of high-quality employment space, with investment specifically targeted in state-of-the-art growth sectors, including taking a lead in approaches to decarbonisation.

This announcement is game changing for Southampton. The Solent Freeport will help to drive the economic recovery and growth in Southampton which I have long been campaigning for. The Government promised that it would seek to provide more opportunities for every region of the United Kingdom and today it is coming good on this promise. Levelling up is about opportunity not geography.