Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone has topped the charts as the number one Enterprise Zone in the country to award the highest level of business rates relief to local businesses.

According to a Government report that records the National Non-Domestic Rates Relief (NNDR3) awarded to businesses by Enterprise Zones in England, Blackpool granted a record £689,000, the largest of any single EZ in the financial year 2020/2021.

Across all the years where data is available, Blackpool ranks an overall 9th out of 277 in the table, behind some of the larger, more prominent EZs in the UK including: 1) Waterside, 2) West of England, 3) Science Vale UK, 4) Birmingham City Centre, 5) New Anglia, 6) Solent, 7) Sheffield City region and 8) Aire Valley.

Between 2016 and 2022 Blackpool Council (as the accountable body for the EZ and on behalf of Fylde Council) has awarded a total of £2.7m in business rates relief to 75 local Fylde and Blackpool businesses, creating more long term, sustainable and highly skilled jobs for the local community, and helping businesses to grow and prosper.  The Council is committed to awarding a further £1.6m in legacy relief until 2027, taking the estimated total to £4.3m over the lifetime of the scheme.

When the EZ was formed in 2016 the local authorities where the EZ was situated were able to award business rates relief up to a maximum value of £275,000 over a 5-year period and subject to the EU State Aid limits which existed at the time.

The Revenues team in liaison with the EZ team put together a policy to manage how relief would be awarded, for how much and to whom. This became a joint policy across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre local authority areas. The policy was approved by the relevant committees of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre to create a uniform approach across the Fylde Coast. For Blackpool Airport EZ this centred on energy, aviation, food and drink, creative and digital businesses and microenterprise small businesses.

Any growth in the net position of the business rates is retained locally every year for 25 years and then paid across to the accountable body, with the funds invested back into the EZ through enabling infrastructure and future development. All EZ related business rate relief will cease in 2027.

This crucial business support that the Council has been able to offer, also backs The Council Plan 2019-2024 which is built around two main priorities:

  1. The Economy: Maximising growth and opportunity across Blackpool
  2. Our Communities: Creating stronger communities and increasing resilience

Cllr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation said, “It is difficult to compare each of the Enterprise Zones like for like as each one is very different in terms of size, levels of enabling infrastructure, existing commercial uses and sector clusters. Blackpool Airport EZ incorporates two existing successful business parks and an operational airport, and as such we have been fortunate to be able to make best use of the business rates relief benefits, helping as many businesses as possible and being able to fill the empty units, which means the business parks are operating at full capacity which is great for the local economy.

“Businesses that have benefited from business rates relief have had crucial flexibility in their cash flow to enable them to make plans for the future, invest in staff or new machinery, or have expanded product lines and services where it might not have been possible without the benefit of the relief. It has been a huge success and a financial benefit that will be missed by all involved now the incentive scheme has come to an end.”

New businesses to the Enterprise Zone can still benefit from Enhanced Capital Allowances up to €125 million if investing in new plant or machinery in the designated enhanced capital allowance (ECA) area of the Enterprise Zone. This is available until 31st November 2023. More information can be found at www.blackpoolez.com/downloads

Testimonials from EZ Businesses:

“The EZ rate relief has given the Spitfire Visitor Centre additional financial resources to not only improve its Airport Premises, but more importantly time to develop the business, its staffing needs and future revenue streams.  Without this assistance the business would never have got off the ground.” John Coombes, Business Owner, Spitfire Visitor Centre, Hangar 42, Blackpool Airport

“The generous business rates relief enables our business to invest in people and capital, facilitating the growth that can now be achieved in the fantastic new facility. It is very important to our business, as the relief enables us to invest in fitting out the site and increasing our headcount to facilitate the growth that we want to achieve. The relief is substantial, and the fact that it is received in the five years following the move to the new site means that we are able to invest in plant and machinery and more staff, enabling growth in our production capacity at a critical time.” Darren Dowdall, Managing Director Multi-ply Ltd.