A freeport in Plymouth will make it easier for small businesses to secure finance opportunities and scale up, MPs have been told.

The Commons Business and Trade Committee’s inquiry into freeports and investment zones, external has been told that questions remained over claims that they increased productivity and improved growth.

But Jan Ward, chair of the Plymouth Freeport, told the inquiry that “one of the great things” about the freeport is that it would bring together all the information about the region’s economic growth potential into one place.

It comes after Plymouth City Council was awarded about £20m for the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport project.

“I think one of the big problems with R&D [research and development] and innovation for small businesses especially is access to the information and the connectivity with other areas and other businesses; that they can then progress their projects,” said Ms Ward.

Freeports aim to create economic activity – such as trade, investment and jobs – near shipping ports or airports.

Plymouth is among eight freeports in England., external

Goods imported into freeports are exempt from taxes, called tariffs, that are normally paid to the UK government.