Budget 2021: £1.6bn for the north with new Derry urban community farm among Levelling Up investments

Chamber CEO Paul ClancyChamber CEO Paul Clancy
Chamber CEO Paul Clancy
British Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a number of investments in Derry in his Budget 2021.

He said an 'Our Place in Space' sculpture trail planned as part of its Unboxed: Creativity in the UK programme will include locations in Derry and Belfast.

Mr. Sunak announced £49 million will be allocated to the north via round one of its Levelling Up Fund.

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This will include 'upgrades to electric vehicle charging networks across the country, the redevelopment of a derelict Ministry of Defence site in Derry/Londonderry into an urban community farm'.

In his Budget statement this afternoon he confirmed the Executive would receive an extra £1.6billion under the Barnett formula.

He stated: "The government is providing the Northern Ireland Executive with an additional £1.6 billion per year on average through the Barnett formula over the SR21 period, on top of its annual baseline funding of £13.4 billion. The Northern Ireland Executive is also receiving an additional £235 million this year."

The north is to be provided with £1 billion for farmers and land managers and £9.3 million to support fisheries, over the Spending Review.

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An additional £70 million in funding is being allocated to the British Business Bank to build on its existing programmes in the north.

Another £14.9 million will be invested in the Tackling Paramilitarism Programme (TPP) over the SR.

"The government is also continuing to deliver on existing commitments to Northern Ireland, including: • £617 million for four City and Growth Deals spanning the whole of Northern Ireland, which will continue to drive economic growth in places such as Derry/Londonderry and Causeway Coast and Glens • the £400 million New Deal for Northern Ireland which invests in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, boosting its economic growth, increasing its competitiveness and supporting the operation of its businesses," the bidget states.

Speaking after the publication of the Chancellor’s Budget and Spending Review today, Londonderry Chamber CEO Paul Clancy said: “The Chancellor’s Budget published today puts the ball firmly in the court of our local ministers here in Northern Ireland.

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"With a boost to the NI Executive coffers over the next year of £1.6bn through the Barnett formula, as well as a further £235m, it’s important that local ministers follow the lead of the Chancellor and cut business rates in Northern Ireland, especially for struggling sectors like hospitality and retail."

Mr. Clancy said the decision to reduce air passenger duty was welcome.

"This is a move which will boost our regional connectivity and enhance and reiterate the North West’s position as an attractive location for investment and for businesses across the UK. The reform of the alcohol duty system is also a positive step and represents a long overdue rationalisation of the system, one which will help hospitality businesses as they get back on their feet.

“It’s crucial now that the NI Executive, with a new three-year budget process in place, gives businesses, workers and consumers the certainty and support we need as we emerge from the pandemic by allocating these substantial funds to help create jobs, prosperity and economic growth.”

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But Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said: “The sight of Rishi Sunak crowing over a spending settlement after more than a decade of his party's austerity was a grim spectacle. The measures announced will do next to nothing to help struggling families who are currently in the grip of the worst cost of living crisis in recent memory, with pressure growing on them from every angle.

“In the past few months alone we have seen spiralling fuel costs, Universal Credit has been cut by over £1,000 a year, inflation is on the rise and national insurance contributions are set to increase.

"The Chancellor had a choice today – he could have protected the most vulnerable in society from the cost of living crisis – but in typical Tory fashion he has chosen not to, instead presenting a budget that does more to help those who are already thriving. Buried within today’s budget is a three and a half billion tax break for banks, while ordinary people are left to suffer.

“Instead of reversing the Universal Credit cut he has cut the taper rate which ignores the plight of millions of people who have had £20 a week snatched from their pockets by his government. These people will be worrying about how they will keep the lights and heating on, while putting food on the table this winter and they have been badly let down by the British government.

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“The decisions taken at Westminster today will be keenly felt by people in the North. It is deeply regrettable that our people are subject to the whims of the Tory government when it comes to decisions that affect their lives.

"The money provided to the Executive will do little to address the problems created by years of Sinn Féin-DUP mismanagement that has delivered little for our people and kept us entombed in political crisis. Now we have some certainty on multi-year funding the onus is on Conor Murphy to actually take responsibility and deliver a multi-year plan to tackle our waiting list crisis and present a credible plan for our economy."

Aontú Colr. Emmet Doyle welcomed the announcement by the Treasury that three projects in the Council area have been successful in their bids for funding through the Levelling Up Fund, amounting to over £16m.

“I want to welcome the funding announcement made today and commend the three projects that secured funding. Our council officers have been working hard in recent months to bring these applications forward and it is to their credit that we have secured such a huge investment.

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"The Daisyfield Sports Hub has secured over £4.2m, the Derg Active project secured almost £6.5m and finally the Acorn Farm secured £5.6m.

"These projects will transform the community infrastructure in their respective areas and this investment, the biggest to any Council area from this fund in the North will see those facilities ready to serve their areas for years to come.”