If you’re thinking of starting up a small business, or expanding your business, then you might be able to benefit from one of the new Enterprise Zones. Here’s a quick briefing on what Enterprise Zones are and what benefits they could offer you.

Enterprise Zones are a government initiative which was launched last year, and the first Enterprise Zones are now up and running. Twenty Four Enterprise Zones have been established in England. They’re often (but not always) located on major road junctions or in areas in need of economic regeneration.

Enterprise Zones are specific areas where a combination of financial incentives, reduced planning restrictions and other support is used to encourage the creation of new businesses and jobs – and contribute to the growth of the local and national economies.

Here are some of the main benefits Enterprise Zones offer you:

* A discount on Business Rates of up to £275,000 per business over five years

* Simplified planning rules through Local Development Orders, so you can get planning permission much more easily than anywhere else –and no fees to pay for planning permission

* Priority rollout of superfast broadband

* 100% first year capital allowances in some zones, for any plant and machinery that you invest in (a big cash flow benefit when you’re setting up or expanding)

* Many Enterprise Zones provide even more benefits which could be of particular help to small businesses – such as lease payment holidays, low rent incubator business units and even development funding

* Some Enterprise Zones have also negotiated what are known as ‘soft landing’ packages with partners – to encourage new businesses into their area. These packages might include pre-agreed deals with developers, accountants, or estate agents to make it easier for your business to establish a base there.

* The opportunity to co-operate with other small, new and growing businesses located in the Enterprise Zone.

How to find out more:

Enterprise Zones have been awarded to, and are being driven by, Local Enterprise Partnerships or LEPs as they are known. Local Enterprise Partnerships are locally owned partnerships between local authorities and businesses. They play a central role in deciding local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and create local jobs in the zone.

Your local council’s Economic Development Unit (or similar) can also give you more information about Enterprise Zones, if they exist in your area.

Scotland and Wales: Scotland and Wales have similar but different arrangements to help new and expanding businesses, more details from the Welsh and Scottish Governments.