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Will new £7.3bn wealth fund benefit Gloucestershire?

Will Gloucestershire benefit from the chancellor's new £7.3billion national wealth fund?

Rachel Reeves has announced the move as part of a drive by the newly elected Labour government to attract billions of pounds of private sector cash for big infrastructure projects across the UK.

It will be established "in less than a week" and act as a "concierge service" for investors and businesses that want to invest in Britain, reports the Guardian.

The investments will then be managed by the existing UK Infrastructure Bank, headed by the former HSBC chief executive John Flint, with support from a revamped British Business Bank, best known for running the Covid business loan schemes.

Labour said in its manifesto that the £7.3bn seed money would come from "closing the loopholes" in the windfall tax on oil and gas companies. The Treasury said further funding details would be set out in the next budget, alongside wider tax and spending plans.

The aim would be to deploy £1.8bn to ports, £1.5bn for gigafactories including for electric vehicles, £2.5bn to clean steel, £1bn for carbon capture and £500m to green hydrogen.

However, the target is to attract £3 of private cash for every £1 of public funding put in via the NWF, which, if successful, would take total investments to about £29bn.

Gloucestershire already has Ecotricity which specialises in green energy and earlier this year plans were confirmed to create up to 4,000 new jobs for the South West with the creation of a huge new gigafactory near junction 23 of the M5.

Last month Ms Reeves was in Gloucester chatting to Punchline  about how Labour could help the city if it won the election. Now they are in power it remains to be seen how this new fund might benefit the county.

But news of its creation has been welcomed by Sam Holliday, FSB development manager for Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath & South Gloucestershire.

He said: "It is encouraging to see that the new Government has hit the ground running with this ambitious fund to support infrastructure and sustainability projects nationwide. "It is vital we start investing now in the industries that will shape our lives in the future decades and this seems like an important step forward.

"Gloucestershire is full of innovative businesses who are on a forward-thinking sustainability journey and we hope that many of these great small businesses in the county will have the opportunity to be part of this fund and gain the investment they need to help shape all our futures."

Reeves made the announcement at No 11 Downing Street on Tuesday, after meeting City bosses who have been thrashing out how to deliver the NWF since March.

Participants included Aviva's chief executive, Amanda Blanc; NatWest's chief executive, Paul Thwaite; the Barclays chief executive, CS Venkatakrishnan; and the former Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

The chancellor insisted there would be a clear distinction between the NWF and GB Energy, another publicly owned company proposed by Labour which will focus on the "production of clean, low carbon energy".

"This new Government is getting on with the job of delivering economic growth," said the chancellor. "I have been clear that there is no time to waste.

"We need to go further and faster if we are to fix the foundations of our economy to rebuild Britain and make every part of our country better off.

"That is why in less than a week we are establishing a new National Wealth Fund and bringing together the key institutions that will help unlock investment in new and growing industries."

The NWF will soon be established formally in UK law, making it a "permanent institution at the heart of the country's long-term growth and prosperity", the Treasury said.

A formal head of the NWF is yet to be appointed, though the government said further details would be set out before an international investment summit to be hosted by the chancellor later this year.

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