Belfast Telegraph

George Osborne: We will go further than ever before to respond to Northern Ireland priorities

Writing exclusively for the Belfast Telegraph, Chancellor George Osborne outlines the government’s financial support for the political deal agreed at Stormont

We promised that we'd put security first for people in every corner of the UK.

So this week, I set out a Spending Review with both economic security and national security at its heart.

It's a plan for the next five years, showing how we will take difficult decisions so that the UK lives within its means and brings its debts down, while making sure we deliver opportunity for everyone from London to Londonderry.

The UK Government is protecting and investing in the things that matter most to you, like defence budgets and a higher state pension, giving you security in retirement.

We'll also provide the Northern Ireland Executive with over £39bn of resource funding in the hope that they make similar decisions to protect your healthcare, policing and education.

This builds on the progress made to date. Since early 2010, employment in Northern Ireland has grown by more than 33,000, with the unemployment rate falling by 14.5% over the same period. And earnings grew faster than any other UK region over the past year.

I warmly welcome the agreement reached last week by the First and deputy First Ministers and the Secretary of State, working alongside the Irish Government.

I believe that agreement provides an opportunity for a fresh start to devolved government in Northern Ireland.

In particular, I want to pay tribute to the integral role played by Peter Robinson, not just last week but over the course of a life in politics.

We will go further than ever before to respond to local priorities and so we have backed the Northern Ireland Executive with a major package of funding. We're providing up to £500m on top of the funding package which accompanied the Stormont House Agreement, including additional support of £160m for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to help tackle threats from dissident republican terrorism.

We have also opened the door to the devolution of corporation tax - which the parties have now confirmed they wish to set at the rate of 12.5%. This is potentially a huge prize for businesses in NI and a real draw for those considering where to invest.

The onus is now on the Northern Ireland Executive to play their part and deliver sustainable budgets to allow us to move forward.

I have committed to significant real-terms increases to capital budgets for the Executive. Funding available for infrastructure investment will rise by 12% in real terms, helping the Northern Ireland Executive invest in local priorities. We are also providing £7m through the regional air connectivity fund to support new air routes including from Belfast to Carlisle and Derry to Dublin.

The UK government is determined to do all it can to deliver for people, families and business across the whole of Northern Ireland.

We have made difficult decisions since 2010, while still making great economic progress. Over the next five years, let's work together to build a brighter, more secure future for Northern Ireland.

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