Naomi Long MP said: “The recent good news for Bombardier, their base in East Belfast, and the local supply chain, provided a good base on which to build, and so the support the announced in the Autumn Statement for aerospace and exports is welcome, as is the announcement on fuel duty which will help both businesses and families.
“The NI Select Committee took evidence from businesses that APD is an inhibitor to growing the local economy. Today I asked the Chancellor to commit to a full cost benefit analysis of the impact of APD so that an evidence based decision could be made, but he stopped short of agreeing to do so. Air travel is a necessity for business and leisure and the tax on it significantly raises business costs.
“I welcome the moves on direct, long haul Air Passenger Duty, but it is tax on short haul and regional flights and the double duty paid on flights through UK hubs which affects most people here and I regret that the Chancellor won’t consider a full analysis of the impact which reducing or abolishing APD would have.
On the wider issues raised in the Statement, Naomi Long MP said: “It is clear that the Government’s plans for recovery are significantly off track, which is of concern as they appear unwilling to alter their plans to account for that, and so we will face further pressure for cuts to budgets. In that context the Barnett consequentials from the infrastructure investment do offer some potential for further investment and could help the struggling construction sector here. Given the pressures on flood defences, sewerage and drainage, I hope that some of this investment will be prioritised to reduce flood risk and update failing infrastructure in East Belfast.
“As one of the MPs who campaigned for the scrapping of the proposed fuel duty rise in January, I am pleased that the Chancellor announced this today, as it will help both businesses and families in these challenging economic times.”