Phew, what a relief!

So Northern Ireland isn’t to be picked out for drastic cuts after all.  On his flying visit  the Prime Minister couldn’t have been more reassuring, backed up by his Secretary of State.

He said the assembly could defer cuts to the Northern Ireland budget for a year if it wanted to.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson said it was not sustainable for Northern Ireland to have more than 70% of its gross domestic product spent on public spending.

“What we need to do, and I’ve suggested it will take 25 years to do this, is to steadily rebalance the economy, by bringing up the size of the private sector and steadily bringing down dependence on public spending.

“But we’ve said it’s irresponsible to do nothing. It’s equally irresponsible to do anything too drastic,” he said.

The new government has been reminding itself of the importance of the public sector in preserving living standards.  In his indispensable column John Simpson has laid out NI’s poorer performance production relative to  UK wide levels.

This may have brought  home to  the Treasury that at least in NI, now was not the time  to wield the axe.  And there’s more.  Sir David Varney’s brutal dismissal of the Quigley case for a 12.5% corporation tax harmonised with the Republic is dead, even if the Treasury won’t go all the way. UK wide corporation tax rates are coming down but perhaps by not as much as the Conservatives promised in opposition. We’ll know more at the Budget on June 22. The Barnett  report recommended a policy of picking better winners than shovelling grants out willy nilly. So where are those ideas for creating an enterprise zone? This is one that needs wider endorsement than the Executive can muster alone.

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  • Maybe if we had the sense to elect an actual liberal conservative representative from here we would have had a more natural and effective link with the government then just another minister (I do find Owen Patterson very likeable though I wish he’d point out a few home truths now and again). As it is the media hysterics from sources such as yourself pre-election aided and abetted a continuation of the current yokels shouting down the real government without offering up any practical solutions themselves.

    Anyone can say the solution is to give me more. It’s when your in charge of the the purse strings that we see the measure of people. NI had a chance to do this but preferred to listen to a bunch of arseholes living in a world that hasn’t yet read the definition of financial budgeting.

    In his indispensable column John Simpson has laid out NI’s poorer performance production relative to UK wide levels.

    I’ll assume you meant to say poorer productivity performance and if so I fail to see the logic in your assertion that now was not the time to weld the axe here. Productivity is measured per work input Walker. Cutting jobs does not affect that figure negatively. As a generalised rule it means more work for existing employees resulting in increased productivity.

    And on a siimilarly misjudged note you ask the PM for his ideas on an enterprise zone.

    I’m sure Cameron would welcome realistic submissions. And no, ‘cut corporation tax and maintain the block grant’ doesn’t cut it.

  • “The Barnett report recommended a policy of picking better winners than shovelling grants out willy nilly ” …. Brian Walker.

    Brian,

    If we are to assume that government themselves doesn’t have any viable and imaginative ideas to grow the economy [hell, they are only a motley crew of butchers and bakers and candlestick makers and barmen after all] but have the necessary public finance in place to disburse to those entrepreneurs who have, who would one be targeting and expecting a meet to be arranged with to further elaborate upon what would be obviously highly sensitive information?

    And that would be someone/an office able to give an immediate yes or no on the spot after the chat/presentation/discussion/call it what you will, for one cannot expect such busy folk as can generate wealth and interest to be wasting their valuable time talking novel operations to those who are not able to help them help them [the politicians bereft and bankrupt of ideas.]

    Who makes the decisions?

  • “P/Robinson has specifically stated he will lead the NI delegation to the economic conference in Wasgington this autumn.” ….. An Eamonn Mallie tweet.

    Is that a Peter Robinson going to Washington with a begging bowl looking for ideas and money … pathetic sweet charity?

    Is that the DUP’s idea of leadership?

  • It’s not much really. They’ll leave the three regions alone until April, and then we will have the same savage cuts as the GB departments. The Barnett formula won’t be amended (yet), but the result will still be nasty.

  • Driftwood

    Actually Robinson has said they will not defer the pain and take a ‘double dose’ next year. So Cuts this year. Also it was clear that the really heavy stuff-cuts to public sector jobs, pay and civil service pensions, benefits cuts etc- will come after the Autumn spending review which will be brutal, though necessary.

    ‘Phew, what a relief’ will not be the words on people’s lips here very shortly, quite the opposite Mr Walker.

    Water rates are a cert but at least the absurd funding of ‘community groups’ and ‘local welfare groups’ will cease and the freeloaders getting paid to staff these useless pseudo help shams have to find a real job.

  • slug

    In fact the 3p reduction to 25p corp tax is exactly what Conservatives promised in opposition.

  • fin

    Having seen the picture on the linked BBC story surely this blog should be captioned “PM meets top MI5 Agent” any waffle that budget cuts were discussed is merely a cover story as the SDLP repeatedly pointed out prior to the election it is in the house of Commons these things are discussed and agreed, or is the PM performing a “bottle Job” and running scared of facing the formidable SDLP parliamentary party in the Commons already. Well done Margaret Ritchie for winning the first round in defending NI without even speaking to or meeting the PM or even the SoS for NI yet,

  • daisy

    Sammy said this morning that they needed to cut up to £150m. Might I suggest a quick fix for that – don’t build the glorified bus lane at the Titanic – estimated cost: £150m.

    Sorted.

  • Little James

    Driftwood – “Water rates are a cert but at least the absurd funding of ‘community groups’ and ‘local welfare groups’ will cease and the freeloaders getting paid to staff these useless pseudo help shams have to find a real job.”

    Agree with the above comment, i can only speak for West Belfast but “community groups” are a cottage industry and are just about the only type of “industry” SF seem interested in bringing to the area. You know when they are getting it tight with funding or there is a chance their funding will be withdrawn when the Andytown News runs a headline story that there has been a 50% increase in glue sniffing inn the last month.

  • Framer

    Irish exception in play here = No Cuts.

    This year’s gap will be plugged by unspent end of year money said Sammy Wilson on Hearts and Minds. (What an easy interview by Noel T.)

    The only thing is that funding for new computer suites, audits and white vans given to ‘voluntary’ groups every February will be sparser.

  • Driftwood

    Given that things are not as bad as forecast..

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/edmundconway/100005840/britain-no-longer-has-the-worst-deficit-in-europe/

    (Though the Republic looks bloody awful)

    It’s the autumn comprehensive spending review that will drop the bomb. Hopefully we’ll have a nice warm summer and our mother country brings the world cup home to London in the meantime.

  • “Water rates are a cert” …. Driftwood says: 20 May 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Nothing is a cert in politics, Driftwood, and as servants of the people, if the people say no to water rates are their representatives duty bound to never mention them again. Let them be paid for from where they are, and have always been paid from. And if that doesn’t suit for whatever perverse reason, then let them be quantitatively eased, for who the hell cares if it is magic money, except probably definitely those who would rather you didn’t realise it is that easy lest you get uppity and start to think about why wealth is stored for exclusive power to individuals and banks rather than spent for currency to flow and deliver workers goods to everyone, for it is they who make the wealth in the first place.

    Show me a millionaire/billionaire and you will pointing out someone who doesn’t actually do or make anything themselves, but rather profits from the work of others. And as for bankers, what do they do other than move figures around and gamble on crazy third party ideas, some of which make a fortune whilst others create debt?