Chancellor George Osborne is to set out plans for creating at least 10 “enterprise zones” across Britain, in a scaled down revival of the Thatcher government’s urban renewal scheme.
The zones will be targeted in areas of “high growth potential” and offer incentives such as simpler planning rules and tax breaks for firms.
Councils will also be allowed to keep revenue from business rates so it can be ploughed back into the local economy.
Speaking at the Conservative spring conference in Cardiff, Mr Osborne will insist the system will have more success at promoting growth away from the South East than Labour’s “bureaucratic” Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).
But critics have warned that the £100 million of funding available over four years is not enough, given that RDAs were handed billions of pounds.
Mr Osborne’s announcement is part of a wave of measures to be unveiled by ministers before the Budget on March 23, intended to prove that the government has a coherent strategy for growth.