25/11/2008

Muted Local 'Welcome' For Pre-Budget

While Stormont has officially welcomed Chancellor Alastair Darling's pre-Budget report yesterday - with Northern Ireland firms said to be getting a fillip of up to £86.5 million - others are less positive.

On one hand, NI Finance Minister Nigel Dodds (pictured) welcomed the Chancellor's plans to stimulate economic growth saying that "in terms of capital expenditure we have the opportunity to accelerate up to £86.5 million in the local economy", while on the other, hauliers are branding the changes as "disgraceful".

They are outraged and say they are looking at a bleak Christmas following the statement.

The local Freight Transport Association has attacked Alistair Darling's bid to increase fuel duty to offset his economy-stimulating cuts in VAT.

FTA Northern Ireland spokesperson Tom Wilson told the BBC last night that Mr Darling's decision was "disgraceful".

"By offsetting the VAT reduction with an increase in fuel duty, he has added thousands to the transport bills.

"Not only does this hurt businesses directly, it also hurts the consumer, who will end up paying more to cover transport costs of items such as food, clothing and white goods," he said, insisting that "the Chancellor is giving with one hand and taking away with the other".
News Image
But, the official reaction is extremely positive with Mr Dodds saying the reduction in VAT was particularly welcome: "This measure provides the flexibility we need to respond to the needs of local firms experiencing difficulties," he insisted.

"In addition, the package of measures targeted at supporting small business will be of benefit to 132,000 firms in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The Chancellor faced a difficult task in balancing the need to kick start the economy against the recognition that the additional borrowing will need to be paid back in the future."

He said he also welcomed Mr Darling's decision to bring forward to January the increases in child benefit and the basic state pension.

"This will benefit over 300,000 young families in Northern Ireland and offer additional help to older people just when they need it most."

An additional, and perhaps unexpected spin-off is the news that the cutting of VAT from 17.5% to 15% will have a "massive impact" on the level of cross-border shopping.

See: North' Is The Place To 'Spend' Christmas

See: Shadow Chancellor Criticises 'Tax Bombshell Budget'

(BMcC)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 May 2022
Local Student To Represent UK At 'Skills Olympics'
Aaron Gillespie, a student from Southern Regional College (SRC) has been selected to represent the UK at the WorldSkills Final in Shanghai, China later this year. Dubbed as the 'Skills Olympics' the international competition is biennial and rewards excellence in technical qualifications.
27 May 2022
New Ballycopeland Windmill Centre And Cafe Officially Opens
A new £1.7 million heritage visitor centre and café at Ballycopeland Windmill has been officially opened by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, together with her Executive colleague Edwin Poots, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The newly built visitor centre and cafe will be open to the public from 2 June.
17 November 2021
Lidl Northern Ireland Commit To Exceeding Living Wage
Lidl Northern Ireland has announced that it will increased the hourly rate for all its employees from 01 March 2022, following its commitment to not only match, but exceed the Real Living Wage, as recommended by Living Wage Foundation.
11 November 2021
Justice Minister Praises Work Of Forensic Science Northern Ireland
The Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI) has been praised for their part in delivering justice by Justice Minister Naomi Long. Visiting the FSNI Headquarters at Seapark, Minister Long viewed facilities and met with staff working across various forensic disciplines.
28 November 2002
Pre-Budget Report broadly welcomed in NI
There was a largely positive response in Northern Ireland today to Chancellor Gordon Brown's Pre-Budget Report (PBR) in Parliament yesterday.