This is a budget to reward hard work and ensure that the UK pays its way in the world. It reasserts our determination to put the public finances on a stable footing which is essential to support economic growth, keep interest rates low and protect jobs in all parts of the UK.
The measures announced today provide really significant help to hard working families in Northern Ireland. The increase in income tax personal allowances by a further £1,100 in April 2013 – the largest in thirty years – will benefit 605,000 people in Northern Ireland, and lift 25,000 out of income tax.
I am proud that this Government has taken 2 million people across the UK out of tax altogether.
In addition, raising the individual threshold for the withdrawal of child benefit to £50,000 will benefit 16,000 households in Northern Ireland.
This is also a budget for jobs and business growth, which are key objectives shared by both the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
The reduction in Corporation Tax to 22 per cent by 2014 will be a real help to Northern Ireland in encouraging the private sector and seeking international inward investment. At the same time, we are continuing to work intensively through options for devolving Corporation Tax to Northern Ireland.
Tax relief for high-end TV production recognises and boosts Northern Ireland’s burgeoning creative industries. There is up to £13.7m to make Belfast a super-connected city with ultra-fast broadband. There is new money to improve mobile coverage along the A2 coast road and A29 Coleraine-Armagh, benefiting road-users and households.
The budget can provide these benefits now because of the decisions we have taken to reduce the record deficit we inherited. Thanks to the reduction in the deficit, and our low interest rates, this Government is saving a total of £36 billion in debt interest payments compared to its predecessor. Our measures will ensure the continued stability of the UK economy, create a fairer, more efficient and simpler tax system, and support growth.
Northern Ireland will benefit significantly from today’s budget, and it offers a firm-foundation for business-led prosperity in the future. Along with the Executive will work to make the most of the opportunities it offers.