Prioritising Our Economy

The last Programme for Government prioritised the economy. The DUP will pursue the same approach over the current Assembly term, as we seek to assist the Province to emerge strongly from the recession. The DUP will have the economy and employment as our key priorities for the incoming four years.

Prioritising Our Economy

DUP Ministers will focus on:

  • Jobs,
  • Growth and exports of indigenous companies,
  • Research and development,
  • Foreign direct investment.

CORPORATION TAX
We favour having available to us the power to reduce the rate of corporation tax in the Province, subject to the precise terms not placing an intolerable burden on our budget. This would assist in improving our productivity compared with the rest of the United Kingdom especially the South East of England and being competitive. Our goal is not be as competitive as the Irish Republic, but to be more competitive, so we would work towards a 10% rate.

We would wish to negotiate with the Government how the benefits from any increase in the revenue raised from corporation tax through the creation of a significantly higher tax base would be shared with the Northern Ireland Executive. We will continue our work to ensure we arrive at the right overall decision, considering options such as targeting and phasing-in a
corporation tax reduction.

STRATEGY FOR GROWTH

In order to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy and promote the private sector, DUP Ministers will:

  • Support the creation of over 20,000 new jobs
  • Strive to make Northern Ireland the best place in the UK to do business
  • Seek to increase exports by 50% over the next decade by supporting first-time exporters and assisting companies to diversify into new markets
  • Seek in the short-term to maximise job creation by actions such as providing financial support for start-ups and grant assistance in the agri-food sector, targeting knowledge processing and contact centre FDI, boosting funding and procurement opportunities for social enterprises and extending the Propel programme for export starts
  • Target over the course of the Assembly term more jobs in ICT, agri-food, financial services, health technology, tradable services, clean technology, business services, retail, tourism and construction
  • Aim to expand aerospace, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other high value advanced manufacturing
  • Seek to reduce the private sector productivity gap with Great Britain
  • Promote the Province’s historic reputation for innovation and invention
  • Seek to build Northern Ireland’s reputation internationally as a centre for creative industries
  • Continue to speed up and simplify planning processes, particularly for job-intensive projects assist in the creation of a business school in the Province linked to a major U.S. university
  • Further develop relationships in India, China, South America, Canada and Russia
  • Encourage firms from the Far East and elsewhere to locate European bases in Northern Ireland
  • Provide greater operational freedom for Invest NI and further streamline support programmes
  • Increase commercialisation of intellectual property from the local university and company research base
  • Target resources to technology areas of greatest future potential and exploit niche strengths in our research, development and science bases
  • Establish the Province as a renewable manufacturing hub
  • Support employers in areas such as innovation, productivity, design and business development and incubation
  • Increase the level of skills to aid productivity improvements in manufacturing and tradable services
  • Further roll out broadband connectivity throughout Northern Ireland and increase e-business activity
  • Support the digital economy, enhancing digital skills and assisting more businesses to get online
  • Pursue banks to provide working capital and funds for growth to local businesses, demanding regular figures updating the levels of business lending including both renewals of facilities and new lending
  • Establish Northern Ireland as a prime location to start and grow an innovative company, and to turn research and knowledge into jobs, products and services
  • Seek to reduce crippling Air Passenger Duty rates introduced by the UK Government which risk diverting business away from the Province to the Irish Republic and placing long-haul routes such as Belfast-New York under threat
  • Increase access to public sector procurement opportunities for SMEs and social economy enterprises
  • Assist the social economy through increased start-up packages, training and support with business plans and hosting an international conference on social enterprise
  • Investigate the potential for providing access to underutilised public property for entrepreneurs or business start-ups to use as incubation centres
  • Foster cloud computing services and new application design, and attract new data centres
  • Continue to press the Westminster Government for a fair fuel duty stabiliser
  • Amend credit union legislation and promote microfinance initiatives
  • Continue to explore the potential to acquire special economic or enterprise zone status for Northern Ireland
  • Continue to press the case for initiatives such as tax breaks for research and development and a tax reduction for the film sector


MAXIMISING OUR TALENT

  • Seek to introduce a graduate home loan scheme for first time buyers with a degree in subjects crucial to improving our economy such as STEM, finance and business
  • We would investigate the potential for the Student Loans Company to be involved in operating the scheme
  • Offer student loan relief for individuals who commit to working in the Province for ten years
  • Continue offering scholarships to high-achieving students remaining in Northern Ireland
  • Build on the work of several Government Departments to attract back to the Province talented individuals originally from Northern Ireland
  • Facilitate unemployed skilled young people, such as trainee teachers to undertake conversion courses to find employment working in STEM areas


CUTTING BUSINESS COSTS

  • Hold regional business rates to increases of no more than inflation
  • Extend and improve the small business rates relief scheme
  • Develop a local small business advice network providing business guidance and signposting, and promote closer relationships between Invest NI and local government
  • Legislate to establish Business Improvement Districts
  • Provide rate relief for businesses investing in energy efficiency measures
  • Empower the Minister to cap district rates
  • Maintain the 30% cap on manufacturing rates
  • Seek to introduce a requirement for an upfront deposit or similar demonstration of commitment from claimants, to reduce spurious industrial tribunal cases


ENERGY

  • Work to reduce energy costs for businesses and consumers
  • Bring energy policy and strategy under a single Government Department
  • Produce a strategic grid infrastructure development plan
  • Support further interconnection on the electricity grid with the rest of the UK and the Irish Republic, enhancing our ability to import and export electricity
  • Seek to reduce the delays experienced in gaining access to the grid
  • Consult on how to improve the pricing structures for small-scale generators
  • Publish a Northern Ireland Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy (that takes account of the Province’s fishing industry), promote wind and tidal stream projects and develop the Belfast harbour area as a major offshore logistics centre
  • Ensure a simplified process to obtain planning approval for renewable technologies
  • Produce a plan to develop the renewable energy potential for public buildings
  • Promote renewable heat working towards 10% of heat consumed coming from renewable sources by 2020
  • Explore potential for anaerobic digestion through co-digestion of wastewater treatment sludge and agricultural material
  • Support the extension of the gas network
  • Commence a Province-wide retrofit programme providing a range of energy efficiency measures thereby creating jobs, combating fuel poverty, reducing carbon emissions and cutting domestic energy bills
  • Explore opportunities for future retrofitting of public and commercial buildings


INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Maximise the amount of revenue spend which can be transferred to capital for investment
  • Invest in employment-intensive projects
  • Invest in our roads and transport network,water and waste water, schools and youth services, health and social care as well as social and affordable housing
  • Continue to minimise road casualties through road safety engineering, collision remedial schemes, traffic calming, school safety zones and improved pedestrian and cycle networks
  • Promote increased usage of public transport and make best use of the new bus and train fleets
  • Seek to ensure that the Belfast-Londonderry rail link has commuters arriving before 9am
  • Ensure public transport and car parking issues are fully taken into account in planning determinations
  • Reaffirm long-term commitment to introduce a rapid transit system
  • Establish Northern Ireland at the forefront in cloud computing and data centres
  • Press for fair share from UK Broadband Fund to improve connection especially in rural areas
  • Improve infill mobile technology, decreasing the number of blackspot areas for mobile communication in the Province
  • Preparation for new generation technology


TOURISM

  • Double tourism revenue to £1 billion over the next decade
  • Maximise benefits from the significant capital investment in tourism, particularly in 2012 with the Titanic and Ulster Covenant anniversaries and the opening of a new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, and Londonderry’s Year as the UK’s City of Culture in 2013
  • Ensure dedicated campaigns for 2012 and 2013 to promote Northern Ireland as a region
  • Produce a ten-year plan for showcasing Northern Ireland on the international stage in 2021, and incorporating a homecoming of the Northern Ireland diaspora
  • Enter into discussions with the Irish Government about the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the Tourism Ireland relationship
  • Use hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards to promote the new Northern Ireland and Belfast as a City of Music
  • Grow tourism in niche areas such as business tourism, golf, country sports,walking culture and heritage
  • Work to develop a conference centre in the Province specifically to attract business tourism
  • Increase visitor numbers by focussing on Great Britain and markets most likely to deliver growth
  • Seek to reduce crippling Air Passenger Duty rates introduced by the UK Government which risk diverting passengers away from the Province to the Irish Republic
  • Greater use of e-marketing
  • Develop full weeks of high quality Province-wide activities to complement 12th July and St Patrick’s Day holidays
  • Promote genealogical tourism across DETI and DCAL
  • Continue progress on attracting major sporting events to the Province


EMPLOYABILITY

  • Improve opportunities for adults to update numeracy, literacy and ICT skills
  • Increase the proportion of the working age population with qualifications
  • Increase the numbers studying STEM subjects
  • Ensure sufficient training places for the unemployed, including apprenticeships and internships
  • On-the-job training in public and private sectors and other labour market activation measures to assist redundant apprentices and craftsmen


CHILDCARE

  • Work towards ensuring affordable childcare Province-wide from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday
  • Make greater use of the schools estate for childcare aiming for schools to be able to use childcare tax credits, and ensuring varied use of time including breakfast clubs,homework clubs, sport and vocational and skills training
  • Provide start-up grants and enhanced support for childminders
  • Simplify the standardised system of registering and inspecting childminders - lengthy delays are a disincentive to people registering
  • Support additional specialist childcare for children with disabilities
  • Establish a lead department for childcare providing greater accountability
  • Integrate the Childcare and Early Years strategies
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