Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Executive announces £200million economy and jobs initiative

The Executive has announced a £200million economy and jobs initiative to support people, businesses and investment.

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.

Welcoming the measures, First Minister Peter Robinson said: “I am pleased that we are able to announce this package which will provide a significant boost to the economy in Northern Ireland and provide employment, particularly for our young people and those who have been out of work for long periods. 

“This initiative comes on top of the £26million in additional funding recently announced as part of Delivering Social Change ‘Signature Projects’ and again shows that by working together the Executive continues to deliver on our Programme for Government commitment to grow the economy and contribute to rising levels of employment by supporting the promotion of over 25,000 new jobs." 

The deputy First Minister said: “The Executive is responding flexibly to the needs of those hit hardest by the recession and taking action to ensure those out of work have access to the right training, skills and education opportunities. These employment measures are particularly focused on the needs of young people to help them get into work. 

“The Executive is already committed to delivering over £5billion of capital investment in the current budget period. To boost employment in the construction sector this package will deliver a range of new measures to improve our schools, roads and accelerate nearly £60million of capital projects.”

Supporting People

Ministers are taking action to ensure that those out of work have access to the right training, skills and education opportunities. They are particularly focused on the needs of young people and other disadvantaged groups.

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

Around 1,100 over-50s, who have been out of work for more than 12 months, will take up temporary paid employment of up to 26 weeks in the Community and Voluntary Sector. 

Further employer engagement with ApprenticeshipsNI will mean up to 900 additional young people will participate in the Youth Employment Scheme.

An additional 500 undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths places will be funded each year, bringing the total increase in STEM places to 1,200 by 2015. This will enhance the skills base in priority areas for the NI economy. There will also be 150 fully funded PhD places and 20 bursaries for Aerospace MSc students.

A further 500 work experience placements/training opportunities for young people will be provided across the public sector as part of DEL’s Steps to Work Programme.

Supporting Businesses

The small business rate relief scheme will be extended to provide around 3500 business ratepayers with a 20% discount.

A new Invest NI ‘Skills Growth’ scheme will be introduced for small businesses (up to 50 employees) which would provide 50% grant towards training costs. 

Car parking charges in towns and city centres will be frozen until at least 2015.

An additional £15million will be available to ensure that farmers receive more money in their Single Farm payment in 2013. This will generate additional spending power for farm business from the end of 2013 and into 2014.

There will be a new ‘Finance Voucher’ scheme to help SMEs access the specialist support they need to grow their businesses.

Streamlined and ‘fast-track’ application & approval processes will be brought in for many Invest NI business support schemes.

Supporting Investment

The Executive is already committed to delivering over £5billion of capital investment in the current budget period. To boost employment in the construction sector there will be several new measures.

More than £40million will be available to deliver a range of projects in the current financial year which will support the construction sector. This funding will see further resources being made available to:
  • improve the schools estate (including addressing the consequences of the fire damage to Arvalee Special School);
  • undertake further roads structural maintenance; street lighting maintenance; emerging works along the Antrim Coast Road; 
  • £8million additional funding for the housing co-ownership scheme.
The maintenance budget for the Schools Estate will be increased by £10million in 2013/14.

Nearly £60million of capital spending will be accelerated to allow projects to commence in 2013/14 rather than 2014/15.

A further £10million will be available in both 2013/14 and 2014/15 through the housing co-ownership scheme. 

An extra £5.7milion of funding will go to the Tourism Development Scheme which could deliver total investment of over £27.5million, supporting over 450 jobs in the construction phase and creating or sustaining approximately a further 50 tourism jobs once complete.

There will be further reforms to planning, including changes to the Permitted Development Rights regime which enables developers to undertake works without the need to apply for planning permission and revisions to the structure of planning fees to alleviate the financial burden on developers.

Ministers will be available to provide more details of the measures under the particular control of their Departments in the coming days.

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