A “RADICAL” scheme to pay employers £1,000 for every job they bring to the district was unveiled last week.
Taunton Deane Council has set aside £300,000 for the job-boosting project, which applies to any firm bringing ten or more new employees to the region.
Under the scheme, the new jobs created have to last for at least two years. The County Gazette can reveal that one company is already in talks about investing in the district under the scheme and could bring up to 200 jobs.
Cllr Norman Cavill, of the council’s economic department, said: “We want to assist businesses in their plans to grow, and helping them do so will boost the local economy, where the new employees will spend much of their money.”
The scheme has the support of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the authority, as well as Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne, but he has emphasised the importance of getting value for money.
However, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has criticised the scheme, which it claims is a “poor use” of public money.
Spokesman Robert Oxley said: “The council should not be bribing companies for money.
“It should be looking at other ways to attract business.
“This type of bribe has progressed from national to local level.”
Offering the companies £1,000 for every job they bring to Taunton Deane could help reach a job creation target of 11,900 over the next 15 years.
That’s the hope of officials at Taunton Deane Council who believe the incentive scheme will encourage businesses to come to the area.
Under the initiative, companies bringing ten jobs or more to the district will receive £1,000 per job, up to a maximum of 100 jobs – a payment of £100,000.
The scheme has £300,000 set aside for it, potentially helping to bring 300 jobs to the region.
Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne said: “I want new job opportunities in Taunton, though there may be concerns about whether this scheme offers good value for money.”
But TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: “Handing out grants to businesses who make the right applications and jump through the right hoops isn’t the best way to create a strong economy and opportunities for residents.
“Too often it just means taking from everyone with one hand and giving it back to a few lucky firms with the other.
“The conditions on these grants could mean they don’t really create jobs, but just shift them a few hundred yards down the road from one borough to another.
“Authorities should have more powers to strengthen their economy by offering lower tax rates, but in the meantime there are other ways to help without picking winners.”
Finance chiefs at neighbouring Sedgemoor District Council, which has major employers like Hinkley Point nuclear power station and the Morrisons distribution centre in its area, said they would not be following suit with the idea.
Spokesman Phillip Adams said: “We’ve done it a different way by not providing direct grants, but we haven’t been hit by the same issues Taunton has as different towns offer different types of industry.
“We decided to be without the incentive scheme, and the members at Taunton must have felt they needed to do things more radically than we’ve had to.
“But it’s good news whenever money’s invested in business in Somerset because that affects us all.”
Do you think it's a good incentive to getting more jobs in the town or a waste of money? Let us know below.