Allister’s ambitious target

Jim Allister has been trying to earn his wages this week. He has submitted three policy papers arguing that Northern Ireland should receive £1billion of the £6.2bn EU spending earmarked for all of the United Kingdom. The reports cover the future of Structural Funds, Peace III and support for East-West initiatives. Interestingly, the economic issues it highlights are the sames as George’s thread:

1.2.1 An underdeveloped private sector

Of Northern Ireland’s 53,770 VAT-registered businesses, 31 per cent are agricultural and 89 per cent employ fewer than 10 people
Only 200 businesses have more than 200 employees and a mere 65 employ more than 500 workers.
The overwhelming number of large private-sector employers are overseas-owned
Around two-thirds of all manufacturing workers are employed by overseas-owned companies
NI has the lowest average private sector wages amongst the 12 UK regions at 83% of the UK average.

1.2.2 Over-dependence on public sector

NI public sector equates to 61% of GDP, compared to UK’s 42% and RoI’s 27% while public sector wages are 103% of UK average
Public sector, retail and hospitality account for 64% of all jobs, with the public sector employing 1 in 3 of all workers and 60% of all females in employment
Per-capita employment in today’s NI public sector is more than that of any Russian state at the break-up of the Soviet Union
Government sponsored retail-based regeneration strategies create retail developments that depend on continued high public sector wages

1.2.3 Low R& D and business formation

NI has second-lowest level of business formation of the 12 UK regions
NI has the lowest level of business growth amongst the 12 UK regions
NI has amongst the world’s lowest % of GDP invested in R&D
Public investment in NI R&D is 41% of UK average
Overseas-owned manufacturing firms account for 60% of NI R&D spend and 10 FDI firms account for 50% of exports
Private sector wages are 83% of UK average and falling relative to the rest of the UK

1.2.4 Low labour market participation

Over 530,000 people (41% of working-age population) are not economically active
There are worrying underlying trends: Since 1978:
– Unemployment fell by 24,100 – 45%
– Employees in employment rose by 171,690 – 33%
– Incapacity benefit claimants rose by 67,753 – 156%
The rise in incapacity claimants is almost three times the total fall in unemployment

1.2.5 High long term unemployed and uneven sub regional growth
NI has the highest level of long-term and youth unemployment amongst the 12 UK regions
Some wards in Belfast and Londonderry have amongst the highest levels of deprivation in Europe
Falling unemployment masks alarming rise in benefit claimants