Invest NI has helped to create 5047 more jobs in Belfast than in Derry from 2011 to 2014, The Derry Journal has learned.
After a written question was asked of Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), Arlene Foster, the number of jobs created and the amount of financial expenditure provided to businesses by Invest NI in each of the last three years by constituency was revealed.
The number of jobs created by Invest NI in the four Belfast constituencies from 2011 to 2014 totalled 6011. However, despite being the parliamentary constituency with the highest level of unemployment, Invest NI created 964 jobs in Foyle during the same period.
The amount of Invest NI assistance offered to the four Belfast constituencies from 2011 to 2014 totals £211.4m whilst the amount of assistance offered by Invest NI to the Foyle constituency equalled £17.8m, a difference of £193.6m.
SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H. Durkan described the figures as confirmation of government “neglect” of Derry and the North West.
“These figures have confirmed the argument that the SDLP has been pushing for years that the North West has suffered decades of neglect in terms of government investment. Our need must no longer be ignored but must be addressed,” he said.
Mr. Durkan went on to say that despite a recent Invest NI jobs announcement in Derry last week the figures in today’s Derry Journal are proof that more jobs and increased investment is needed if the high level of unemployment in Derry is to be tackled properly.
“Last week, we saw the very welcome announcement from Invest NI that they were able to support Derry based businesses to create new jobs. We need more of this and these figures today show that we are certainly more in need of the investment that other areas who have been traditionally pumped with Government funds.
“The new North West Sub Group presents an opportunity now for us to all work together to actually get the investment to Derry and the North West West.
“The official stats show we are in one of the highest areas of unemployment and social deprivation in the UK.
“Others have attempted to silence us and cite their ongoing ‘commitments’ to Derry in order to reassure us that the North West hasn’t been forgotten, but the time has come for those commitments to materialise,” he said.
When contacted by the Derry Journal and asked to explain why there was such a disparity in jobs created and investment offered by Invest NI, Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager said the figures were reflective of how many people lived in each constituency.
“Derry City Council area contains 6% of the adult population while the greater Belfast area contains nearly 50%. It is therefore reasonable to expect that more jobs would be created in the greater Belfast area, although it is important to note that this is not driven by Invest NI.
“Our support is demand led – i.e. is dependent on businesses approaching us with a business plan and we will see how we can help. Invest NI works hard to encourage investment, both foreign and indigenous, in Northern Ireland and we are continuing to work in partnership with stakeholders in the area to encourage businesses to contact us.”
He added: “This proactive partnership approach between all stakeholders in the city and Invest NI, is having a positive impact on the economy and on people’s lives. This is evident in the increased level of investment in skills development and the 92% improvement in jobs promoted during 2013-2014 to the previous year.”
Mr. Gartland went on defend Invest NI’s in Derry and confirmed that despite having a higher unemployment rate than Belfast, Derry did not receives as much job promotion as Belfast in 2014.
“Over the last 5 years, on a per capita basis, businesses located in Derry have benefited from above Northern Ireland average levels of financial assistance, investment and job promotions.
“Notably, 306 new jobs promoted per 10,000 head of adult population compared to 242 in Northern Ireland as a whole.
“Indeed, last year Derry City Council area has had the highest jobs promoted outside of Belfast, 8.5% of the total jobs promoted in Northern Ireland.
“We continue to work closely with all stakeholders to support the success of the One Plan and are committed to support the development of an Integrated Economic Strategy, co-funded with the local council, for the new council area,” said Mr. Gartland.
Mr. Gartland finished off by asking any businesses with an interest in investing in Derry contact Invest NI.
“As well as financial support, Invest NI has a wealth of advice and guidance available to companies across Northern Ireland to help unlock business constraints and support growth. For further information contact us via our website www.investni.com or 0800 181 4422.”