Secretary of State signals lower corporation tax in NI as UK-wide rate cut to 23 p.c. in Budget

On Thursday March 25th the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson MP welcomed the Budget measures contained in the Chancellor’s speech. He said: “This Budget will help us deliver a strong and stable economy, promoting growth and supporting enterprise. "This is the start of a process which could lead to increased investment and make Northern Ireland one of the best places in Europe to do business”, said the Secretary of State. He went on to say: “This Budget and the Plan for Growth will help business and individuals alike, it will take 9,000 in Northern Ireland out of tax altogether and reduces tax for 640,000 others.

“The Plan for Growth is particularly exciting. It contains a wide range of measures that will last for the remainder of the Parliament. We are going to:

* reduce the rate for Corporation Tax from 28% to 23% across the UK ;
* simplify the tax system;
* introduce a substantial package of deregulation that currently cost business over GBP350m a year;
* create a powerful new presumption in favour of sustainable development.

“I also welcome the reduction in fuel duty and the introduction of the fair fuel stabiliser which I know will be welcomed by drivers across the province. The freeze in Air Passenger Duty and the consultation on its replacement will be welcomed by those of us who rely on air travel which is essential for developing our business and tourist industry.

“Where these matters are devolved in Northern Ireland we shall work in partnership with Northern Ireland ministerial colleagues to take forward implementation of the Plan for Growth. “This is a Budget for growth across the whole United Kingdom in which Northern Ireland will share. Working together with the Executive we are committed to rebalancing the economy away from unsustainable public sector spending based on debt towards sustainable, private sector led growth to the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland.”

In Washington on March 16th, the Secretary of State set out Northern Ireland's strengths as a location for Foreign Direct Investment

"Northern Ireland is an excellent location to do business. Just ask the New York Stock Exchange or CitiGroup to name just two recent high profile investors.

In particular we benefit from…

…the English language
…excellent transport connections to the rest of the UK and Europe
…significantly better education results than other parts of the UK
…two brilliant universities
…highly competitive operating costs compared with the rest of the UK and Western Europe
…the first region in Europe to have 100 per cent broadband access
…Project Kelvin, a new 40 gig per second transatlantic link between North America, Northern Ireland and Western Europe
…a strongly pro-business climate led by the Northern Ireland Executive
…and, not least, the benefits of being part of the UK economy in which our structural deficit will be eliminated over the course of this Parliament and which is poised to return to steady growth".

Corporation Tax

On the question of NI's corporation tax, he said 'I believe that we can do even better. Northern Ireland has some world-class businesses; we just need more of them. That’s why, working with the Treasury and ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, we are looking at some really radical measures to help make the private sector flourish and attract new investment.

One of these is to transfer responsibility for corporation tax from the Treasury to Stormont. I’ve been promoting this for the past three years and believe that it has the potential to make Northern Ireland a beacon for foreign investment. So I very much hope that we shall be launching a major consultation on it within the next few days. And I’d encourage anyone thinking of investing overseas to watch this space closely. "