12/03/2020

Budget: Extra £210m For NI Public Services

Business and political leaders have been giving their reactions to the Budget, with an extra £210 million allocated for public services in Northern Ireland.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, yesterday pledged a £12 billion package of measures aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus across the UK.

While businesses in England will receive a break on rates bills, local Finance Minister Conor Murphy has not committed to extending the measure to Northern Ireland.

Of the money offered, £138 million is for infrastructure spending while £77 million remains for day-to-day costs.

Minister Murphy said the budget fails to deliver the money required for "first class public services", with the gap between financial pressures and the funding available before the budget estimated at almost £600 million.
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Speaking after the Chancellor set out his plans in the House of Commons, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director Aodhán Connolly offered a cautious welcome but said a lot more still needs to be done.

"On the face of it, this budget has coronavirus very much at its focus and the interventions that government is making in this area are hugely welcome.

"The extra £210 million coming to Northern Ireland as art of the block grant is also very welcome. However, we need to make sure that it is not just spent to plug holes in our own devolved budget."

Meanwhile, the continuation of Air Passenger Duty is a let down for local business leaders.

"This is especially important since the closure of Flybe," Mr Connolly continued. "There remains a need for connectivity from Belfast to the rest of the UK and beyond. It is essential in today's global marketplace."




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