Belfast Telegraph

Radical action needed to fix Northern Ireland economy: SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell

'Radical action' must be taken to readdress the economic situation facing Northern Ireland, the leader of the SDLP has said.

Following news on interest rates and PwC report Dr Alasdair McDonnell warned that unless all parties come together to deliver an effective strategy Northern Ireland’s future is bleak.

On Thursday PwC said Economic recovery is slowing down in Northern Ireland, with poor productivity being the biggest challenge.

PwC forecasts growth of 1.8% for Northern Ireland in 2015 - down from 2.2% last year.

PwC said that Northern Ireland had experienced the highest unemployment of 12 UK regions over the last two years - even though unemployment numbers had fallen.

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Productivity putting brake on Northern Ireland's economic recovery

Interest rate hike in 2015 unlikely as Mark Carney warns over negative inflation 

Meanwhile the Bank of England said UK interest rates have been held at 0.5% again by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Dr McDonnell said: "The news today from the Bank of England that interest rates will remain at its record low combined with the report from PwC warning that the economic growth in the north will be the lowest across all 12 regions in the UK is startling.

"The British economy is struggling but here the economy is utterly depressed. It is time now to radically reassess what we are doing. Business confidence is dropping and we need to focus on changing that.

"“It is not enough to simply do welfare reform. We must do welfare and work reform. We need to help people get into work. Education is one aspect, another is childcare. We are working on a strategy to tackle the often crippling costs to help working parents stay in employment, and remove the barrier that currently prevents many women from attaining their true employment potential."

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