Derry's Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive says Department of Economy budget cut will have 'serious' ramifications

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Derry’s Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Anna Doherty has said the announcement by the Department for the Economy regarding its budget allocation ‘makes for extremely grim reading for the local economy and businesses in Northern Ireland.’

The department has confirmed that its opening budget for 2023/24 will be £130million (16%) lower than previously expected.

Ms Doherty said: “ A 16% reduction in an already slashed budget will have serious and concerning ramifications for our ability to attract investment, support and nurture start-ups and budding entrepreneurs, and create a Northern Ireland economy fit for the future.

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“Cuts to our further and higher education budgets are particularly troubling, given their importance in ensuring we have a quality pipeline of talent and skills coming through for our businesses. The department also plays a vital role when it comes to tourism, one of Northern Ireland’s key economic sectors, as well as other key policy areas including energy, our film industry, and economic development.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Anna Doherty.Chamber of Commerce CEO Anna Doherty.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Anna Doherty.

“The stark reality of this budget is that investment will be missed, jobs will not be created, productivity will not be improved, and Northern Ireland will not properly grasp opportunities before us like dual market access and net zero.”

Ms Doherty said the absence of an Executive is having an ‘undeniable effect’ on the ‘day-to-day’ running of the country.

“The Chamber recently warned that the Northern Ireland Office’s budget would have serious negative consequences. Unfortunately, we are now seeing its outworkings. While local power-sharing is not a silver bullet which will fix Northern Ireland’s fiscal position overnight, the ongoing absence of an Executive is having an undeniable effect on the day-to-day running of the country. We would once again urge local parties to do all they can to restore the Stormont institutions and appeal to the UK Government to grant further funds and extra leniency to address this crisis.”

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The Department said it will ‘ now work closely with its stakeholders to fully understand the implications of its budget’.

“DfE will then publish a formal budget consultation document in the weeks ahead, setting out the full proposals in detail. This process will also include the statutory duty to equality screen any impacts of the Department’s policies and programmes.”