Scaremongering by Invest NI won’t stop fight for jobs

A chara,

I would like – in my capacity as MLA for Foyle - to respond to a letter from Invest NI published in the ‘Irish News’ of 9th August. I was on holiday at time of publication and unable to respond immediately.

Firstly nowhere in my original statement did I accuse Invest NI of ‘endemic discrimination’ and furthermore I was commenting on figures supplied by Invest NI to a member of the public under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. My comments referred to information on pro-active Invest NI sponsored visits to different areas and not on overall support for particular businesses.

As a Sinn Féin spokesperson in my absence stated to other publications last week, the Foreign Direct Investment “figures supplied under FOI to a member of the public are Invest NI figures, not Martina Anderson’s or Sinn Féin’s”.

I was merely commenting in the context of information supplied by Invest NI. Is Invest NI now saying these are not their figures or that the figures it supplied under FOI were inaccurate or that it provides different figures depending on how the question is phrased in the FOI?

The fact that the average support per job in Derry of £7675 - Invest’s figures, not mine - is less than half the support per job in Belfast speaks for itself as to the value level of jobs which Invest NI is directing towards the North West. That they had to go back beyond the millennium to get an example of higher value jobs at Seagate would confirm the evidence contained in the Invest NI figures supplied below. Invest’s scaremongering comments that my criticism will not be welcomed by prospective investors is unworthy of an organisation tasked with actively promoting all areas of the North for investment.

If Invest believes that this unacceptable comment will deflect me from fighting for jobs for my constituents it would need to think again. I will continue to hold all public bodies to account regardless.

I will be requesting an urgent meeting with Invest NI to discuss this issue.

The main points of the FOI response supplied by Invest NI appear to be:

1) Of 147 projects, 103 (70%) were located in the Belfast Council area (population 267,000)

2) The average support per job in Belfast was £15,700, average support per job outside of Belfast was £8450. This discrepancy is indicative of the quality of the jobs. Higher paid jobs are entitled to higher support. This is evidence that the higher value jobs are being located in Belfast while the lower value jobs go to other areas outside of Belfast.

3) Average support in Derry per job was £7675, less than half the support per job in Belfast.

4) Excluding the five projects with 565 jobs yet to be allocated, funding to Belfast amounted to 77% of the total funding allocated.

5) Strabane received no visits in five years, Limavady only two. Fermanagh and South Tyrone received no visits.

6) In 2008 there were no jobs created in Derry, in 2009 there was a single job created.

7) In 2008 Belfast received 93% of funding, comprising 88% of the projects and 95% of the jobs.

8) In 2009 the figures for Belfast were 95% of the funding and 96% of the jobs (new and safeguarded).

9) In the five years, the four Belfast parliamentary constituencies received 671 FDI visits. Foyle received 49.

10) In the five years, less than 8% (77) of the visits were to “West of the Bann”, while “East of the Bann” received more than 92% (909).

11) West Tyrone and Fermanagh & South Tyrone had no jobs and no projects located in five years

12) In the five years, ‘West of the Bann’ secured 23 projects (16%) and less than 19% of funding. ‘East of the Bann’ secured 124 (84%) and over 81% of funding.

13) If the five projects with 565 jobs yet to be allocated are located in Belfast, the above figures will be even worse.

14) In 2008 Derry received just seven visits (2%) of 344.

Yours,

Martina Anderson MLA