Northern Ireland now needs a local economic stimulus plan, says Farry

The Executive needs to produce its own local economic package focusing on skills and a green new deal as soon as possible, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.

North Down MP Dr Farry was speaking after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a range of measures in a bid to prevent mass unemployment after the coronavirus crisis.

“It is welcome the Chancellor has recognised the need for a range of measures to drive economic recovery. The overall scale of the economic intervention is considerable, but should have gone even further,” said Dr Farry.

“In particular, more could have been done to invest in a green new deal and support for key strategic sectors to the UK economy, to support manufacturing and reform the apprenticeship levy.

“The Job Retention Scheme bonus is helpful, but the £9 billion resource could have been more usefully deployed on a targeted basis to assist sectors such as aerospace, travel and the creative industries that will face deeper challenges in the short term but otherwise have a sustainable future and to help communities that may have local lockdowns in the future.

“Some of these interventions will apply automatically across the UK, while others create significant Barnett consequentials for the Executive to invest in similar schemes.

“Young people will face much greater damage from this economic recession. As a Minister, I introduced a local youth employment scheme to incentivise employers and subsidies wages. We also have local apprenticeship and youth training strategies. It is now incumbent on the Executive to use the resources coming to it from the new kickstart and training allowance interventions in Northern Ireland and to create local, innovative responses.

“With the UK Government having now published its economic stimulus plan, albeit with its limitations, it is now vital the devolved Executive produces its own local package focusing on skills and a green new deal as quickly as possible.”