Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Carney urged to consider Ulster

Mark Carney has held talks with Peter Robinson

The Governor of the Bank of England has been urged to factor in Northern Ireland's economic circumstances when making UK wide decisions during a meeting in Belfast with Stormont's First Minister and Finance Minister.

Peter Robinson and Simon Hamilton said a "wide-ranging discussion" with Mark Carney covered issues including the local housing market, interest rates, business lending and the local banking sector.

First Minister Mr Robinson said: "I welcomed the opportunity to meet with Governor Carney to ensure the issues affecting people in Northern Ireland are given full consideration when the Bank of England is making decisions impacting on the entire United Kingdom.

"The local economy was particularly impacted by the recession with it experiencing a deeper and more prolonged downturn compared to the overall economy as a whole. A range of economic indicators suggest the local economy is now gaining positive momentum. This includes economic activity expanding, the number of jobs increasing, while the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has been falling.

"Access to finance has been a major concern for some time, but there are encouraging signs the lending environment here is beginning to improve. The Finance and Enterprise Ministers meet regularly with our local banks who tell us they are very much open for business and have money to lend. The economy remains the Executive's key target and so we must ensure the necessary access to finance is in place to enable businesses to perform."

Mr Hamilton added: "The structure of the banking sector in Northern Ireland has in the past limited the effectiveness of the initiatives taken nationally by both the Bank of England and the Government to encourage the banks to increase lending.

"The Government recognises this and I have been working through the Joint Ministerial Taskforce on Banking to examine how we can improve the support that is on offer.

"Today's meeting with Mark Carney was a useful opportunity to highlight the challenges facing our banking sector so that Northern Ireland's unique circumstances are taken into account in the design and implementation of such initiatives going forward."

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