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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 15:13 GMT
Brown signals aid for blackspots
Gordon Brown
Brown signals Budget aid for job creation
Chancellor Gordon Brown has signalled he will use his March Budget to deliver "targeted" tax cuts to help unemployment blackspots.

In a speech to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology on Monday, Mr Brown said he was looking at cuts in stamp duty and business rates.


The 2001 Budget will offer greater incentives to business and, from the classroom to the boardroom, widen the spirit of enterprise in Britain

Gordon Brown
He also hopes to extend capital gains tax relief, and a new community investment tax credit to encourage new enterprises in inner city areas.

"The 2001 Budget will continue this government's policies to offer greater incentives to business, remove unacceptable barriers that prevent people with enterprise getting on and, from the classroom to the boardroom, widen and deepen the spirit of enterprise in Britain," he said.

'Opportunity for all'

The chancellor said that the government's ambition was to make opportunity for all the foundation of a more dynamic enterprise economy, breaking free of the old dependency culture in high unemployment areas.

"Instead of acquiescing in the old giro culture - simply paying benefits to compensate people for their social exclusion - we must back success rather than accept failure," he said.

Regional assemblies

At the same time, the chancellor stressed the importance of elected English regional assemblies, in those regions which want one, in Labour's plans for a second-term government to boost the role of regional development agencies.

The move will be seen by many as a clear hint of progress towards setting up the first regional assemblies in England to mirror devolution in Scotland, Wales and Ulster.

The chancellor promised an extra half a billion pounds for regional policy over the next three years, but stressed that the cash must be matched by greater accountability from the English regions.

'Proper scrutiny'

The chancellor said the regional chambers, made up of local figures including councillors, businessmen and trade unionists, must have the resources to scrutinise the regional development agencies properly.

The chambers, set up by Labour, have no statutory basis and are not elected, but are seen by some as a stepping stone towards fully elected local assemblies.

Archie Norman
Archie Norman: "A stab in the back"
But the shadow environment secretary Archie Norman condemned the chancellor's comments on regional assemblies.

Mr Norman, whose wide brief includes responsibility for the regions, said: "Gordon Brown is calling for yet more taxpayers' money to be wasted on unwanted and unpopular regional bureaucracy.

'Arbitrary' definition

"Labour's definition of 'regions' is just arbitrary Whitehall-determined lines on a map. They lack common purpose and culture. Local people are more likely to identify with their local town, city or county."

Mr Norman added that England already had a large local government system.

"We do not need another tier of government. Labour have already said that regional assemblies will require the abolition of county councils in England. In other words, more centralisation and a stab in the back of local government.

"Regionalisation would split up the United Kingdom. Conservatives will champion the cause of local government, and stop Labour's plans for the break-up of Britain," he said.

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See also:

27 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Brown points to targeted tax cuts
05 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Brown rules out tax bonanza
09 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Brown offers 'prosperity for all'
05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tax takes centre stage
08 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Assemblies campaign stepped up
02 Dec 99 | UK Politics
A guide to devolved powers
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