At the beginning of the Assembly term we made clear that growing the economy and creating jobs was our top priority and this commitment was reflected in the Executive’s Programme for Government. This focus on generating jobs and growth has gained significant results and helped rebuild and reshape our economy in the after the global economic crisis
Northern Ireland has seen the unemployment rate drop from 58,644 in 2011 to 28,700 in 2018.
This record of success was built on:
- supporting the promotion of over 40,000 new jobs – smashing the target of 25,000;
- £2.9 billion of investment – almost three times the target of £1bn;
- £585 million on research and development investment – almost double the target of £300m and
- 72% of new jobs supported under the Rebuilding Our Economy Programme have been above the Northern Ireland Public Sector Median salary.
- In areas like tourism, Government action, in partnership with the industry, has delivered real advances. For example, we took control of Air Passenger Duty on long haul flights leaving Northern Ireland and reduced the charge to zero.
Northern Ireland has also achieved:
- over one million more visitors in the last three years;
- a year on year growth in tourism spending, with it reaching £752 million in 2014; and
- a year on year growth of cruise ships docking in Northern Ireland – 80 vessels and an estimated 145,000 guests came to Northern Ireland in 2016.
- It is not a coincidence that these positive developments have occurred with sustained devolution.
On business taxes, the DUP:
- continued the policy of industrial derating, which has ensured tens of millions of pounds have been saved for local businesses, protecting jobs and encouraging investment;
- protected the Small Business Rates Relief scheme, which has benefited many small businesses across Northern Ireland, by approximately £18 million per year;
- delivered a Northern Ireland wide rating revaluation, resulting in reduced rates bills for many businesses and
- 525 new businesses have benefited from the introduction of Empty Premises Rate Relief since 2012.
- For years, business organisations campaigned for the need to devolve Corporation Tax and setting a lower rate by Government. It has been described as a potential game-changer for our economy. While other parties had second thoughts and gave up on achieving it, the DUP persisted and we have now secured the power, with a date set for lowering the tax in 2018 to a rate of 12.5%. This will build on the strength of our workforce and comparative cost base that makes Northern Ireland an attractive investment opportunity.
The DUP wants to go even further in the next Assembly term. This is our Plan for more jobs and rising incomes.
1. 50,000 MORE JOBS
The DUP does not wish to rest on its laurels in terms of job creation and we recognise that in some sectors and some parts of the region, economic recovery has been slower and companies have closed their doors for good. We want to combat that and keep our economy moving forward positively by creating more and better jobs. This will be vital to raising people’s incomes. This target will be achieved not solely through the work of Invest NI but the range of measures in this plan including action on corporation tax, an upscaling plan, a rural jobs focus and investment in skills. This should enable Northern Ireland to keep its most talented people and attract back those who have left.
2. OUR COMMITMENT ON CORPORATION TAX
The DUP is committed to delivering the 12.5% Corporation Tax rate in 2018. The shift at a UK level to lower UK Corporation Tax means the DUP is open to looking at lowering the rate to 10%.
3. A BETTER BUSINESS RATES SYSTEM
The DUP supports devolving to Councils the power and the ability to lower business rates in their Council area by up to 3%. We will enhance the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme and maintain Industrial Derating.
4. UPSCALING SUPPORT PLAN
There are many leading and talented small companies within Northern Ireland but many do not fulfil their full potential in terms of expansion and employment. This is caused by a range of factors including access to finance, business culture and purchase by larger often multi-national corporations. Therefore, the DUP will commission a plan that will enable more of our companies to make the step change to larger employers and added value.
5. A NEW ENERGY STRATEGY FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
The DUP will carry out a fundamental review of energy policy to ensure that consumers and businesses have a secure energy supply that moves ever closer to the EU median price. This review will include how best to support further development of the renewable sector at least cost to consumers and businesses and better interconnection.
6. OUR FAIR SHARE OF THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY
A Treasury initiative, the DUP is committed to ensure Northern Ireland receives in full what is paid in by NI companies under the new Apprenticeship levy. Northern Ireland also needs flexibility to spend this resource on a broader skills agenda with Further Education Colleges.
7. JOB FOCUSSED SKILLS
The DUP want to greater align the skills provision from our colleges and universities to match the need of both indigenous companies and Foreign Direct Investment and fully realise the potential of an integrated Enterprise and Skills Department.
8. STRENGTHENING OUR MANUFACTURING BASE
The number of jobs within the manufacturing sector has increased over the last five years. Despite this there are a number of manufacturing companies who are either reducing the number of people they employ or closing their factories in Northern Ireland. The DUP will place the development of manufacturing at the centre of our economic strategy with focus on how to support the sector to ensure that it can continue to grow, increase the number of employees and increase the value of exports.
9. INNOVATION UK AND NI
Northern Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs are proven successes on the world stage. However, NI remains the only part of the UK without a dedicated innovation agency. The DUP believes the best solution would be for Innovation UK to establish a Northern Ireland base. This will provide the support needed and linkages into the UK network. Across a range of sectors, with this support, they can reach new heights – exploiting the knowledge economy to its full potential and harnessing skills in sectors and markets such health, agriculture and technology. The focus of the work will be dedicated to supporting those indigenous, high growth sectors that are underpinning the new private-sector led Northern Ireland economy. It will implement the published Innovation Strategy, with a focus on crosscutting initiatives, better exploiting the work already underway in local departments, agencies and private companies.
10. A £1 BILLION TOURISM SECTOR
Northern Ireland has seen its tourism sector flourish in recent years, but there is still untapped potential. The DUP is committed to driving up tourist spend in Northern Ireland to £1 billion every year by 2020.