Belfast Telegraph

Business leaders welcome £1bn financial support package after Tory-DUP deal

Designs for York Street Interchange. URS/Scott Wilson's digital team
Designs for York Street Interchange. URS/Scott Wilson's digital team

Northern Ireland’s business leaders have welcomed the financial support package agreed by the DUP to support Theresa May's minority Conservative government.

The package includes £1bn of new funding for infrastructure, health and education spending, along with enhanced flexibility on almost £500m of previously allocated cash.

A total of £400m over two years has been earmarked for infrastructure projects, including the York Street Interchange designed to ease traffic congestion in Belfast.

The deal also includes £150m to provide ultra-fast broadband across Northern Ireland.

There will also be further consultation on VAT and Air Passenger Duty tax, along with a commitment to devolve Corporation tax to Stormont, with a revised timetable for its introduction.

A number of so-called city deals and Enterprise Zones are also due to be created as part of the deal.

“There is much in this agreement that business will welcome", Trevor Lockhart, CBI Northern Ireland Vice-Chair commented.

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“In particular, the delivery of the York Street Interchange has long been a key infrastructure priority for local firms from across Northern Ireland, not just those based in Belfast. The continued support for the devolution of corporation tax, plus commitment to examine options for implementation in the Autumn Budget, will be similarity welcomed.”

“However, while businesses will welcome the economic commitments laid out in this document, the number one priority for firms in Northern Ireland remains getting the Executive back up and running before the end of June. Against the backdrop of Brexit, and its specific impact on this region, we can’t afford any more delays.”

NI Chamber also welcomed the commitment to devolve Corporation Tax powers to Northern Ireland.

“This, alongside the establishment of City Deals, will prove attractive to investors,” Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said.

“Road schemes such as the York Street Interchange will do much to ease congestion on heavily trafficked roads in the region, helping businesses to move products and goods more efficiently and in the process reduce costs”, she added.

We need the Northern Ireland Executive to reform, to agree a final Programme for Government, an economic strategy, and to establish a single Northern Ireland action plan on Brexit which will address key business concerns. Ann McGregor, NI Chamber

The Federation of Small Businesses hailed the DUP/Conservative deal as a “starting point for progress”, adding it is now “vital” that agreement is reached to restore the Northern Ireland Executive.

Roger Pollen, FSB Northern Ireland’s Head of External Affairs, said: “FSB welcomes the positive implications of the deal for infrastructure and jobs, but will now be calling on the local parties to engage to restore the institutions that will let Northern Ireland capitalise on this new-found investment.”

Retailers have also urged Stormont leaders to restore the executive following the announcement of the DUP-Tory deal.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This deal ensures that we will see the delivery of the long awaited York Street Interchange and hopefully A5, A6 and other key infrastructure projects”

“Retail NI has long campaigned for City Deals and more Enterprise Zones and we are pleased that they included in this deal”.

“With such a generous package now agreed, it is now vital that the political parties conclude a deal to restore an Executive and start to deliver real economic change for Northern Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital