Rory Stewart MP launched a scheme last week to support the renovation of Business premises in the most deprived parts of his constituency. The government scheme will give full tax exemption to people who are prepared to renovate disused business space, and bring it back into use. The tax breaks provide a major financial incentive to businesspeople and developers to build new businesses in areas from Rockcliffe and Longtown to Wigton.

Rory Stewart worked with Cumbrian accountancy firm Dodd and Co, to bring together fifty key Cumbrian leaders and explain and promote the benefits of the new scheme. ‎The scheme has become possible since the government secured “Assisted Area” status for the wards of Longtown, Stanwix Rural, Longtown & Rockcliffe and Wigton in Penrith and the Border constituency. The seminar was the first of its kind in Cumbria, and through a series of presentations – introduced by Rory – gave concrete examples to businesspeople of how to structure the renovations, and benefit from the financial assistance.  ‎

The BPRA (Business Premises Renovation Scheme) will give an initial capital allowance of 100% for expenditure on converting or renovated unused business premises within the Assisted Area. Another incentive to be offered to the areas is the ECA (Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme) which is a key part of the government’s climate change policy, providing businesses with enhanced tax relief for investments in equipment that meets published energy-saving criteria.

Speaking at the event, Rory Stewart thanked Dodd and Co for its hosting of the evenbt, and said: “This is an absolutely incredible opportunity for places like Longtown or Wigton: a chance to upgrade all those empty buildings, marking a significant advance on the general regeneration of high streets and industrial areas, whilst benefiting private Cumbrian investors at the same time. The basic idea behind this is precisely why I am a Conservative, which is to say that we create incentives and tax structures that enable to local private sector to invest in initiatives that make sense both commercially, but also to the community at large. The continuing regeneration of Cumbria – particularly in some of our more neglected towns, such as Wigton and Longtown – is absolutely vital, and this is a pivotal piece of legislation which we should be taking advantage of. I want to encourage anyone operating in one of these areas to think about how this initiative can benefit both their business and their community: it’s a win-win.”

Cllr Val Tarbitt (County Council, Longtown Division) said : “This was a very informative event, and it is encouraging to see these new incentives being made available to the Longtown area for the first time. With the impending commercialisation of part of the MoD property at DM Longtown, and the potential of the related Solway 45 initiative to encourage further regeneration in the area, the BPRA provides a very useful tool to developers as they look at new projects.’

Cllr Marilyn Bowman (Carlisle City Council, Stanwix Rural ward) also commented : “I am very pleased that Rory has taken the initiative to highlight the potential local applications of the BPRA, and hope that it can have a positive role to play in my own area. It may also be that the BPRA can help with the completion of the City Council’s asset disposal programme, which was initiated under the last Conservative administration and has helped to put the Council’s finances on to a
much sounder footing.”

Anyone interested in understanding more about how the BPRA might help their own redevelopment project is encouraged to contact Kathryn Brown of Dodd & Co, one of the speakers at the seminar.

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