Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson Sandra Overend MLA has commented on the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mrs Overend said: “We welcome the Government’s economic predictions that the economy will grow 1.4% this year, which is more than two times the 0.6% predicted in March, with 2.4% growth next year instead of 1.8% is good news. It is essential that the Northern Ireland Executive does all in its power to ensure that the local economy keeps pace with the upturn in business activity UK wide.
“The Chancellor also announced a number of measures which will impact on Northern Ireland and those of us who live here.
“There is some very welcome news in the increase in the Northern Ireland block grant of £136 million over the next two years.
“More good news came in the Chancellor’s announcement that the 2p a litre rise in fuel duty which had been due to come in next year has been scrapped. This will be welcomed by motorists, consumers, businesses and especially transport companies.
“Many people in Northern Ireland will be affected by the increase in the State pension which will increase by £2.95 a week from next April and by the changes to the age at which people will receive the State pension, which has been increased to 68 by the mid 2030s and 69 by the late 2040s.
“The Ulster Unionist Party would like to see part of any increase in the Barnett consequential allocated to those Northern Ireland schools who were earmarked for savage cuts to their budgets as a result of John O`Dowd`s proposed changes to the Common Funding Scheme.
“Other measures announced by the Chancellor included the introduction of a married couples tax allowance in 2015, an increase in the number of apprenticeships, an increase in the number of business start-up loans and a cap on the increase in business rates. Many of these measures are UK wide, but some relate solely to Great Britain or just England, and in those cases the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers must examine how best to extend them to the Province.”