New laws on state aid to firms could help to 'level up' in East Anglia

Suffolk MPs say the new state aid bill could help to 'level up' some areas of Suffolk

Suffolk MPs say the new state aid bill could help to 'level up' some areas of Suffolk - Credit: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE/SARAH LUCY BROWN

New laws designed to give the government and councils greater freedom to support businesses could be used to "level up" in East Anglia, Suffolk MPs have said.

Ministers say the Subsidy Control Bill, put before parliament on Wednesday, will allow local and central government to give financial help to firms which need it faster.

It would replace European Union state aid rules, which require member states to seek approval for the government to assist companies.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the EU restrictions meant the government was "unable to support growth of industries in certain areas".

He added: "One of the reasons that people and businesses were unhappy with some of the red tape and regulation from the European Union related to the state aid rules as they were.

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"Now the government has signalled it wants the state aid to support certain industries in the country - and one of those industries that we know is important to the East of England is green energy and green jobs.

"The east of England is already a centre of emerging green jobs, and this is only going to allow the government to support the growth of that industry further in the years to come."

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Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the rules could also help support emerging technology firms in and around Ipswich.

He said: "I could foresee where there could be some occasions where we'd want to make interventions locally, to take advantage of these new rules.

"If these rules means that local authorities and bodies like the LEP are better able to make relevant interventions to support that sector, then I can see how there could be occasions when we would want to do that.

"Ultimately, the good thing is we've now got that power to come to that judgement ourselves."

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said he was unable to comment on state aid directly as he has a role at the Treasury .

He also said it was "too early to say what impact these measures would have in Suffolk specifically".

But he added that towns like Sudbury had access to the levelling up fund and the county generally could benefit from Freeport East.

The government said the new system would deliver "good value for the British taxpayer, while being awarded in a timely and effective way”.

Business minister Paul Scully said: “The UK’s new bespoke subsidy system will be simple, nimble, and based on common-sense principles – free from excessive red tape.”

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