From Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) <[email protected]>
Subject Getting a better deal for NI
Date July 8, 2023 6:59 AM
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Good morning John

Last Monday I travelled to Brussels alongside our NI Assembly spokesman on EU matters Gordon Lyons MLA where we reminded the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly that the Belfast Agreement and its successors depended on the support of unionists as well as nationalists.

We had useful meetings with the EU Commission where we were frank and honest about our desire to see a fully functioning devolved government restored as soon as we have made the progress needed in resolving the problems created by the NI Protocol.

It is regrettable that when Stormont was functioning, the EU repeatedly ignored our concerns and instead told us there could be “no renegotiation ([link removed]) ” of the protocol. If there had been a more considerate approach by Brussels in the first place, we may not have arrived in this situation.

On Thursday, I returned from London and hurtled straight down the A1 to meet Newry Chamber of Commerce. This was a valuable and constructive exchange where I was able to outline the DUP’s economic vision for the whole of Northern Ireland, including the city of Newry.

Given the geography, many businesses in Newry are tuned into cross border trade and I recognise the importance of this to those local enterprises. However, I also reminded them that in avoiding a hard border, it is equally important for the economy that we continue to have full access to the UK internal market, where we sell even more of our manufactured goods. We want Northern Ireland to prosper and that must mean avoiding both a hard border on the island and a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The ball rests firmly in the Government’s court and as we continue to engage with them, we expect to see moves to bring forward the solutions that are necessary to restore our place in the UK and its internal market.

The DUP and our Deputy Leader Gavin Robinson in particular, has been pressing home to Treasury the need to address Northern Ireland’s underfunding. Some people have suggested to me recently that rather than get more money, we simply needed to better utilise the money we have.

To some extent I understand that sentiment, but no amount of better spending could plug the shortfall which will develop between our need and our allocation over the next decade unless there is a change to the Barnett funding formula. That is why I took the opportunity to raise this in the Commons on Wednesday with the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Northern Ireland Fiscal Council has produced several reports over recent months where they map out why Northern Ireland must arrest this spending gap.

We get approximately 3.36% of any additional spending which Treasury announces in England.

Here’s an example from the NI Fiscal Council:

Imagine that spending per head is £100 in England and spending / Block Grant funding per head is £200 in NI, a premium of 100 per cent. If the UK Government were to increase spending per head in England by £10 to £110, under the Barnett formula it would also increase the NI Block Grant by £10 per head, to £210. This means that spending rises by 10 per cent in England but only 5 per cent in Northern Ireland.

Next week the Northern Ireland Budget Bill will be debated in the House of Commons and the DUP team will once again be using this opportunity to challenge the Chancellor to recognise how Northern Ireland is falling further behind equivalent spending in England.

Because we are a smaller and more rural region, we don’t benefit from economies of scale. Scotland and Wales are in a similar situation and therefore the three regions will have a higher per head spend compared to England.

The Northern Ireland premium over England per head in spending was 31 per cent more in the 2000’s and 25 per cent more in the 2010’s but without change the premium would fall to below 20 per cent in the early 2030’s and below 10 per cent in the 2040’s.

Whilst other parties will seek to score points, the DUP will continue to get a better deal for everyone in Northern Ireland because we want to make Northern Ireland work for the next generation.

Best wishes

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader

P.S. Best wishes to all who are reading this on their way to Rossnowlagh

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