30/11/2011

Chancellor's Statement Welcomed In NI

Northern Ireland could receive up to £200m more to spend on public services this year as a result of measures in the UK Chancellor's Autumn Statement on Tuesday.

The biggest slice will be for infrastructure projects, a move welcomed by Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

He said: "The Autumn Statement has reaffirmed the Government's commitment to protect our country through the global debt storm, to show that we can live within our means to protect confidence in our economy and keep interest rates low.

"As a result of Government spending announcements the Northern Ireland Executive will receive an additional £142m, the vast majority of which is for capital expenditure over the spending review period.

"While it is for the Executive to decide how this money is spent, it should come as welcome news for our construction industry in these tough times," he said.

He went on to say that deficit reduction is a major part of the plan and added that the previous Government left the biggest deficit in its peacetime history.

"The Office for Budget Responsibility re-affirmed that the Government will meet its targets to bring down the deficit. At the time of the election our long-term interest rates were higher than in Italy; they are now at German levels.

"That helps every business and family in Northern Ireland by keeping interest rates lower for longer.

"Every 1% rise in interest rates would add £10bn a year to households' mortgage interest payments. So tackling the deficit remains essential for our recovery.

"Northern Ireland will also benefit from a number of other announcements that the Chancellor made," he said.

"Pensioners will see a rise in the basic state pension of £5.30 to £107.45, the largest ever cash rise; the pension credit will be uprated by £5.35. We will also uprate working age benefits in line with September's inflation figure of 5.2%.

"This amounts to a significant boost to the incomes of many of the poorest in Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland smaller and medium sized businesses will have access to the £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme, helping to lower the cost of bank loans.

"Belfast is included in the £100m urban broadband fund that will create ten super connected cities across the United Kingdom, essential to promoting economic growth in the regions," he said.

"This Government will do whatever it takes to protect the UK from the debt storm, while doing all we can to build the foundation for future growth."

The Stormont Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson also said that £134m of additional capital will be available for Northern Ireland over the next three years.

The Minister was speaking after the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons.

He said: "The Executive will ensure the funding is allocated in a manner that will benefit the people of Northern Ireland.

"It is still in the early stages and I have not yet received details of the impact on our resource budget, however, I remain hopeful that this too will involve additions rather than reductions."

The Minister also outlined some of the benefits for Northern Ireland from UK wide measures announced in the Chancellor's statement.

These include: the deferral of the fuel duty increase planned for January 2012 and the cancellation of the original increase planned for 1 August 2012; and the growth review measures that may potentially benefit some 240 mid-sized business in Northern Ireland.

The DUP Minister concluded: "Whilst we wait to see the full outcome of the Chancellor's statement, at this stage it appears to be positive news for Northern Ireland. This is the sort of boost our economy needs to help it recovery during these difficult times."

(BMcC)

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