Ulster Unionist leader, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, has welcomed the announcements made by the Chancellor today, but has warned that a border in the Irish Sea will seriously harm the chances of Northern Ireland making an economic recovery next year.
Mr Aiken said:
“The Chancellor quite rightly states the challenges that our economy is likely to face, combined with the amount of borrowing and national debt levels, is in peacetime, unprecedented. That said, there is a clear pledge to invest in our future, in infrastructure, research and development, and a very welcome commitment to supporting our vital health service, pay increases for our health workers, much needed reinvestment in our armed forces, and a recognition that a ‘levelling’ up across our nation in economic terms is required.
“We want to see the pay parity for our health workers, as implemented by the Ulster Unionist Party in January, maintained. The increase in Barnett consequential of £0.9 Bn, on top of the £2.8 Bn we have already received from our nation’s Exchequer underlines the importance of our Union.
“However, in view of Boris Johnson’s economic own goal of the Irish Sea Border, we have yet to see any detail of the Finance Bill or further clarification as to how Northern Ireland will not have its vital trade with the rest of our nation disrupted.
“These are very real economic impediments that, combined with CoVID, are likely to blunt any real chance of economic recovery here next year.”