MORE THAN 25,000 jobs could be created across Hampshire after the Chancellor confirmed plans for one of the UK’s first “freeports” to be created in the Solent.

Announced during the Budget this afternoon, Southampton-born chancellor Rishi Sunak - who has championed the freeport idea - has confirmed that the Solent will be one of eight across the country.

But what are freeports? And what does this decision mean locally?

Here is all you need to know.

What are freeports?

Well, according to the Chancellor, they are "special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business".

In simple terms they are sites which will see the usual customs rules, planning policies and business taxes lifted. Businesses will be able to import materials and components and then export them without the normal tariffs or regulation.

Mr Sunak said that freeports will have “simpler planning”, “cheaper customs – with favourable tariffs, VAT or duties”, and lower taxes – with “tax breaks to encourage construction, private investment and job creation”.

What does it mean for Hampshire?

More than £2billion will be invested in the region, which would mean lower taxes and less red tape for businesses in designated areas.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) - which submitted the area's freeport proposals to the Government - says its plan could generate 50,000 jobs, more than half of them in the Solent area, in sectors including including maritime, science and research, logistics and defence.

Solent LEP’s proposal – submitted on behalf of a coalition of businesses, councils and other partners – would set up a range of low-tax and customs-free sites across the area. It is discussing specific locations with government but has not revealed them publicly.

Sounds good...Are there any downsides?

Opponents of the freeport idea include the campaign group Fair Tax Mark, which says the idea is likely to exacerbate tax avoidance and and evasion, “encourage a global race to the bottom on corporation tax” and give an unfair advantage to some businesses.

What is being said locally?

Speaking just moments after the announcement this afternoon, Royston Smith, Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, said: “The announcement by the Chancellor today is game changing for Southampton.

“The Solent Freeport will help to drive the economic recovery and growth in the city which I have long been campaigning for. The government promised that it would seek to provide more opportunities for every region of the United Kingdom and today it is delivering on that promise.

“This scheme creates the opportunity for billions of pounds of investment in Southampton and across the region and promises to create thousands of jobs across the next few years.

“As I have always said, levelling up is about opportunity not geography. The chancellor has listened and he has responded.”