Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Treasury: over 700 responses to tax cut proposals

Over 700 responses were submitted to a Treasury consultation on the possibility of Northern Ireland being able to set its own tax rate.

The news was delivered in response to a parliamentary question from a staunch opponent of the campaign to lower corporation tax in Northern Ireland, Ulster peer Lord Kilclooney.

Formerly known as John Taylor, the media company owner believes funding the change would mean less money for public services and said that the only beneficiaries will be business people.

He had asked how many responses were received and how many of those responses were from individuals.

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon, told Lord Kilclooney: "The consultation on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy closed on July 8, 2011.

"Initial analysis suggests that over 700 responses have been received. A summary of consultation responses will be published in due course."

The deadline for the consultation on the Treasury paper 'Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy', which opened in March, was put back twice from the initial closing date on June 24 to July 1 and then July 8.

Back in June there were fears of a disappointing reaction to the consultation, with insiders then reporting that responses were only in "the low three figures".

Devolving tax-setting powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly would allow politicians to set a unique corporation tax rate here.

Businesses and all five main political parties are backing the move to cut Northern Ireland's rate from 26%, the same as that applied to the rest of the UK, to something closer to the 12.5% rate in the Republic.

Supporters claim it would trigger a flood of foreign direct investment, influence more small businesses to incorporate and could generate 4,500 new jobs a year.

But others, including unions, are opposed to the move, saying it could only be delivered with an accompanying cut to public funding - as much as £400m - from the Treasury.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson embarked on a marathon PR campaign, visiting businesses and communities across Northern Ireland, urging as many people as possible to have their say on the Treasury paper.

"Rebalancing and rebuilding the economy is critical to the future prosperity of Northern Ireland and it is one of the Government's key priorities for Northern Ireland," he said.

"Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor heard at first hand the importance of reviving the private sector on their recent visits."

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