The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce today hosted a Budget engagement session for North West businesses with Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA.
The event, held in the City Hotel Derry, was the first opportunity for businesses to pore over the details of the latest Budget and Spending Review and discuss what they mean for public finances and the wider economy in Northern Ireland.
As the Executive prepares to move to a multi-year Budget 2022-2025 settlement, the session was useful in bringing businesses together directly with the minister and the Department of Finance team to address concerns or issues shared by companies.
The engagement brought together business leaders in the North West with officials from the Department of Finance who are consulting with a wide range of businesses, industry groups and sector leaders right across Northern Ireland.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA addressed businesses at the event saying: “I welcome the opportunity to engage with businesses in the North West today and to hear first-hand their views on the budget.
“The reality is that the Spending Review has not delivered the necessary finances to do all that we need to do. There are significant pressures on public services. Our health service is under immense pressure with waiting lists at an unprecedented level. Businesses are facing skill shortages and increased costs. While we are facing a cost of living crisis with rising food and energy costs, the increase in National Insurance and the cut by Westminster to Universal Credit.
“The Executive’s priorities include; health, sustainable economic development, green growth and sustainability, and tackling inequalities. It will be challenging to deliver on all of these priorities given the limited funding available to us.
“Despite the significant pressures facing us, I am determined to work collectively with Ministerial colleagues to produce a multi-year budget that delivers for citizens and businesses here. I look forward to continuing to engage with businesses in the time ahead as we work towards a Draft Budget.
During the meeting, the Chief Executive of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce made representations on behalf of the business community across the North West and said that ongoing consultation with business groups will be crucial as the Department of Finance prepares its draft budget before the end of the year.
Londonderry Chamber Chief Executive Paul Clancy added: “We were pleased to be able to bring together business leaders in the North West, Finance Minister Murphy, and departmental officials to discuss the budget process. This was an excellent opportunity for our members and businesses across the North West to engage directly with the Minister and make their voices and their concerns heard.
“Last week’s Budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP made some positive steps for Northern Ireland including a planned reduction in air passenger duty, a rationalisation of alcohol taxes, and further allocation of funding through the Barnett formula. The Chancellor also made significant moves on business rates, which local businesses are keen to see replicated in Northern Ireland, and we hope that the Executive continues to work closely with businesses to support them as we emerge from the pandemic
“I again want to thank the Minister and the Department of Finance for taking this opportunity to engage with businesses in the North West and we look forward to working with the department as they bring forward a draft budget before the end of the year.”