The Strangford MLA said: “The whole point of taking control of our own political destiny was so we could apply local solutions to local problems. In terms of the economy, what that means is that the private sector should have easy access to decision-makers, who offer quick and flexible responses. But that is not what is happening.
“Look at planning, for example, and not just the proposed John Lewis store at Sprucefield. We talk about the important of air connectivity to the economy, yet George Best Belfast City Airport want an extension to their runway and they are now lobbying their sixth devolved Environment Minister for a decision. Any decision would be better than this continued period where it is impossible to plan with certainty.
“I am particularly concerned with the levels of unemployment among young people, with one in five 18-24 year olds now likely to be out of work. We need imaginative solutions, like using the Short Term Employment Scheme to train up people who could then use the £4 million in the budget for the Green New Deal, so they can retro-fit homes where residents live in fuel poverty.
“Lately, we have put a lot of political focus on universities and the associated fees. In the current economic climate, I believe we need to switch emphasis to vocational and practical matters, like offering apprenticeships, internships and work experience opportunities that at least give young people their first step on the ladder to meaningful employment.”