As Phil Hammond loosens the belt, how is NI set to take advantage?

“Boring Phil Hammond” yesterday effectively announced his intention to dispense with George Osborne’s (slightly mad) targeting of a surplus in government funding.

This is, potentially, a very big deal, which the First and deputy First Minister (not to mention the new Finance, and back seat, Business Minister) should be on to pretty sharpish…

Two areas should be in the front of the queue: infrastructure and Health (there are real promises to make up the artificial shortfalls in training medical staff.

That will ease any pressure on the Billion spending pledge for health. But what plans do both ministers have for bidding for the extra cash?

  • AndyB

    I’d tend towards preferring a budget surplus myself in order to reduce debt, however, not being slightly mad, I prefer not killing off the demand side of the economy to achieve it. It was never going to happen by 2019, not with his fiscal policy.

    The annoying thing was that Osbourne’s resignation gave Hammond the chance to mask the need for an emergency budget to maintain Osbourne’s plans with a change in economic policy.

    Interesting point in the Telegraph article is a demand to remove import tariffs since they only bring in £3 billion. It completely misses the point of tariffs: to protect British manufacturers from external competition availing of economies of scale or predatory pricing, or in other words, what happened when the UK blocked EU tariffs on Chinese steel.

    There is also the other way of describing British manufacturers: wealth generators.

  • Reader

    AndyB: It completely misses the point of tariffs: to protect British manufacturers from external competition availing of economies of scale or predatory pricing, or in other words, what happened when the UK blocked EU tariffs on Chinese steel.
    I suppose a company’s attitude to cheap steel depends on whether they want to use steel to make stuff; or to make expensive steel for the domestic market. (Import tariffs won’t protect a company that wants to export its product, of course)
    As for Northern Ireland industry – does it want to buy subsidised, cheap Chinese steel or expensive Welsh steel?
    But the actual situation is not even that bad. The result of the latest fuss and bother is that the UK will move to re-cycling steel rather than producing it from imported ore, which makes a lot of sense in a country with expensive energy and a concern for the environment.

  • Old Mortality

    If there is one objective to which both the DUP and SF should subscribe it is the reduction of the block grant. If they are behaving rationally, that is.

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