One of the surprises in last week’s local elections was the election of Ben Houchen as Mayor of the Tees Valley. On paper this should have been a Labour victory, and the Labour Party will still be wondering how it lost this to a Conservative. For those of us of a free market persuasion, though, this presents us with an opportunity.
For decades the North East has been under the grip of Socialism. Every answer to the region’s economic problems have been more Government interference. Nothing improves and still Labour calls for more Government. As I mentioned in a recent article, what the North needs in general is more of the invisible hand of the free market, and less of the dead hand of the state. Now, at least in the Tees Valley, we have a chance to do something about it.
What I hope Ben Houchen will be doing as he starts his period in office is lobbying the Government to declare the Tees Valley an enterprise zone. Businesses should be offered tax breaks if they wish to relocate. The Government should scrap business rates and employers’ national insurance contributions. Planning restrictions should be relaxed in areas that are ripe for industrial development.
That is just a start. And before the choruses of “we can’t afford it” start ringing in my ears, my reply is we can’t afford not to. If we want Brexit to be a success and if we want to trade our way to prosperity, we need areas like the North East of England to be successful and thriving. The people of the North East of England want prosperity. They are hard working people who deserve a break. Instead of pouring billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the region to pay for the client state, there needs to be incentives for the private sector to create more jobs, which will, of course, create additional tax revenue and reduce spending on things like benefits.
I would love to see the day when economically illiterate business taxes are scrapped altogether, but until that day arrives, why not try scrapping them in the North East, and in the Tees Valley in particular? They will prove so successful, that everywhere in the UK will want them scrapping, too.
The video below is a brief explanation from the late Milton Friedman as to why business taxes don’t work and will never work. It’s the best I have seen.