£200m economy and job plan welcomed

Published Thursday, 08 November 2012
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Stormont ministers have welcomed the announcement of a £200m economy and jobs initiative to support people, businesses and investment.

It will be used on a range of measures including the creation of 1,700 waged employment opportunities for youths, temporary paid employment for around 1,100 over-50s, and the extension of a rates relief scheme for around 3,500 businesses in Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the plans, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said almost £6m will go towards tourism schemes to support an estimated 450 construction jobs.

"The initiative comprises a range of proposals including proposal to help smaller businesses gain increased and rapid support and a scheme aimed at encouraging employers to help people who are finding it difficult to get a job," explained the DUP minister.

"On the tourism front, an extra £5.7m will be used to develop tourism schemes including a range of capital projects which had not progressed because of budgetary constraints. The NI Tourist Board estimate that tourism capital projects will support over 450 construction jobs."

The new measures, which include support for more than 4,600 people through skills training and employability, are additional to the commitments in the Executive’s Programme for Government and Economic Strategy.

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The waged employment opportunities for 1,700 young people will be of a minimum of six months duration and will be created within either the private, public or voluntary and community sectors.

Employers will also be encouraged to offer places for an additional 900 young people onto the Apprenticeships NI programme.

Additional help will be offered for older people out of work. More than 1,000 over-50s, who have been jobless for more than 12 months, will take up temporary paid employment of up to 26 weeks in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry said the package will make a difference for some of the groups most in need of opportunities.

"The series of measures approved by the Executive will help tackle the issue of our young people and those over 50, who are unemployed and need skills experience to help them move into work," said Alliance minister Dr Farry.

"These measures will also ensure that skills development for economic growth is being supported at all levels through additional support for skills training at our FE Colleges and an increase in 500 higher education places and an additional 150 Phd places for priority skills areas for the NI economy."

Meanwhile business groups have also welcomed the plans, including the rates relief.

There will also be a new Invest NI 'Skills Growth' scheme for small businesses (up to 50 employees) providing 50% grant towards training costs, a freeze on car parking charges in towns and city centres until 2015, and a £40m boost for the construction sector.

Glyn Roberts of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association said: "NIIRTA welcomes this Economic Package and in particular the further extension of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and the freezing of Car Park Charges until 2015.

"We lobbied Ministers extensively for action on reducing business rates and addressing car park charges to support local traders and Town Centres and are very pleased that both feature prominently in this package.

"The new Invest NI Skills Growth and the Finance Voucher schemes to assist small businesses are positive developments to help our struggling small business sector.

"While this package is not a 'silver bullet' in addressing our huge economic challenges, it does include practical and imaginative solutions to assisting retailers and small businesses get through the worst of this recession and toward a sustainable recovery."

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the boost to construction as well as some of the other measures.

"We welcome the initiatives announced last night," said NI chairman Ian Coulter.

"In particular, the injection of over £100m into the construction sector this year and next, will hopefully help local construction companies, and support employment.

"Additional support for tourism development is welcomed, though we are surprised that the advertising budget has not been restored to enable the sector to promote itself more competitively with other UK regions, who have budgets that are much higher.

"Overall, the speed at which these initiatives were turned around following one meeting is encouraging. CBI would encourage these meetings becoming a regular occurrence, with monthly reviews tabled by the Executive."

© UTV News
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2 Comments
strabane in strabane wrote (524 days ago):
A waist of time and money people are being laid of over these job schemes cheap labour thats all it is long term jobs is what is neded not easy to bo but u no what would help a road u can drive lorrys safely and effectively on the north west scrued again what a shocker
Kieran Murphy in Dungiven wrote (524 days ago):
100 STG Subsidy would encourage inward /local low cost manufacturing jobs would be UK taxpayers money well spent and every 50 million a year at 100 a week fund 10,000 jobs a year even at the mininum wage and guarantee the employers the subsidy for at least a year and be the difference in companies coming to NI or never!! and build fancy roads when there is Economic success and one billion the cost of A5 and even the A6 provides few jobs and very expensive and doubtful if the Country can afford that expenditure as we need to build a manufacturing base first and create jobs and help to reduce the 331,000 on benefits and over 60,000 of them is on JSA
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