Written Ministerial Statement

The content of this written ministerial statement is as received at the time from the Minister. It has not been subject to the official reporting (Hansard) process.

Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister- Economic Pact: Building a Prosperous and United Community

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Published at 10.00 am on Thursday 3 March 2016

Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness:  (The First Minister and the deputy First Minister): 

We are today announcing the publication of the second progress report on the implementation of the Economic Pact document, Building a Prosperous and United Community.

The pact was published by the Government and the Executive in June 2013 and sets out a series of measures consistent with rebalancing the economy and building a shared future, as well as unlocking projects to boost growth.

The measures set out in the pact included a mechanism for taking forward the devolution of corporation tax, as well as £100 million in additional borrowing for shared future projects.  It was also confirmed that Northern Ireland would continue to benefit from 100% Assisted Area Status to drive investment and business expansion.

In July 2014 we published Building a Prosperous and United Community: One Year On reflecting on the progress made after one year. Whilst this set out the significant progress that had been made over the previous 12 months, for example in enhancing access to finance, it was also recognised that further action was necessary.

This 2016 Progress Report reflects on the progress that has since been made across all areas.

In respect of the economic outlook the local economy continues to grow. Employment has increased by 46,000 since 2010. Our private sector has been driving these improvements, growing by 6% since the end of 2012 and adding 12,000 jobs in the last year alone. A major contribution has been made by Invest NI which in 2014-15 supported 14,000 new promoted jobs, created 9,410 jobs and £1.4 billion investment in the economy.

Since the One Year On update was published the legislation has been enacted to allow the devolution of corporation tax rate-setting powers to the Assembly. Through the Fresh Start Agreement in November 2015 the Executive committed to a commencement date of April 2018, and a devolved rate of 12.5 per cent. This will enable the rebalancing of the economy towards greater private sector led and value added growth more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

The Executive also recognises the need not to add unnecessarily to the cost of doing business. Informed by the findings from the Review of Business Red Tape the Executive has agreed a 5 year programme of regulatory reform designed to reduce the burden on business and support economic growth, while continuing to provide necessary protections for workers, citizens and the environment.

However, sustainable improvements in economic growth can only be achieved if progress is also made in terms of a shared society.  In this respect, work continues on the projects under Together: Building a United Community (TBUC). This is an ambitious framework that includes commitments on education, housing, regeneration, sports, youth development, community interaction and interfaces.

There has been continued progress on the projects to be funded from the additional borrowing facility, including integrated primary schools and further education facilities. In addition, Ravenhill Road was the first shared neighbourhood scheme completed and others are now underway.

The other TBUC measures are also proceeding such as the summer camps pilot programme where the feedback has been positive from the 101 camps held in 2015 by the 4,200 participants.  As a consequence we have approved the proposals for a further series of summer camps this year.

Together these projects will help increase the availability and quality of shared education places and increase the opportunities for people across different communities to live together.

Moving forward, the Executive remains committed to working together to continue to rebalance the economy and build a shared future.

We will continue to work on the ongoing economic pact measures and on the commitments set out in the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements so that these agreements are implemented in full.

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