Budget sends signals of economic optimism but Northern Ireland still suffering from political stalemate - Aiken

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Budget sends signals of economic optimism but Northern Ireland still suffering from political stalemate - Aiken

Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson Steve Aiken MLA has said whilst there are signs of economic optimism within the Chancellor’s Budget, for as long as the Stormont political stalemate continues public finances locally are set to remain in a state of flux.

Steve Aiken said:


“There were some clear signals of renewed economic hope within the Chancellor’s Budget. The UK not entering a recession, even if only a technical avoidance, I hope will see renewed confidence and even greater vigour injected into the national economy.  

“I also especially welcome the forecast that inflation is to fall to 2.9% by the end of this year. The last 12 months have placed unprecedented financial hardship onto many household budgets, with prices soaring and salaries often being unable to keep up.  


“Whilst the £130m additional funding for Northern Ireland will ease some of the shortfalls, even after this increase Departmental budgets are likely to remain in turmoil due to the ongoing political stalemate and long-running failure to agree any multi-year settlement.

“Many parents and employers locally will also look enviously at the extension of 30 free hours of childcare for working parents of one and two years old in England, especially as Northern Ireland has no real free childcare scheme at all of its own. For too long the issue of resolving the childcare problem has been passed over by repeated Ministers and this latest announcement will only further widen that divide. If this intolerable inequity for parents continues for much longer the UUP would call upon the Secretary of State to intervene and instruct the Departments locally to start making the necessary plans for similar childcare provision.


“The increase of Corporation tax from 19% to 25% will also create particular challenges for some businesses in Northern Ireland due to the lower rate in the Republic of Ireland, so it's an issue which the Department for Economy locally must remain alert and responsive to.


“Whilst there are undoubtedly some measures in the Budget to welcome, the actual overall benefit to Northern Ireland is likely to remain limited due to the ongoing political stalemate at Stormont. One of the issues businesses and prospective international investors look for most is political & economic stability, something that shamefully remains in short supply here.”