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Delivering on the Promise of Freeports

Applying the lessons and thinking of major programme delivery

The Treasury’s announcement in the 2021 Spring budget of eight new Freeports promised opportunities for historically deprived UK communities.

The additional infrastructure, investment, and jobs expected from the introduction of Freeports will be a key element in the delivery of one of the government’s central policies: ‘levelling up’ the UK.

However, it is by no means certain that all Freeports will be a success, nor will it be easy to measure success. Maximising the benefit from the Freeports programme will require a clear strategy and effective management. Each Freeport will need to demonstrate to investors and employers the assets and infrastructure they can offer, as well as their plans for improvements. In addition, the plans for each Freeport project should be embedded within a strategy to bring benefits and regeneration to the wider region.

This paper sets out the importance of structuring the Freeports initiative as a large-scale coordinated programme, with each of the interrelated projects centrally co-ordinated in order to ensure delivery of mutually reinforcing, measurable and regenerative outcomes for some of the country’s most deprived regions. The paper is up-to-date as of March 2023, recognising that government policy on Freeports may evolve.

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