Ministers from the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive held the third meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy this afternoon in Belfast.
The meeting was attended by Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson; the Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Hugo Swire; First Minister, Peter Robinson; deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness; Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson; and Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster.
Following the meeting, the Group announced that further work would be necessary before a decision on the devolution of Corporation Tax to the Northern Ireland Executive can be reached. Ministers agreed to meet again in September.
David Gauke said:
We’ve had a productive meeting, and while we’re agreed on some aspects of the work, there remain some crucial areas where significant differences of opinion still exist. The group has agreed to a further meeting after the summer and has asked officials on both sides to undertake further work to understand these differences.
I recognise that many people are keen to see a decision on the devolution of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland, but it is important that any decision is informed by a full understanding of the implications of such a step.
Owen Paterson said:
We’ve made substantial progress, particularly on setting out the potential shape of a devolved corporation tax regime without disproportionate burdens on either businesses or HM Revenue & Customs. But there remain big questions around the potential costs to the block grant. These must be resolved before a final decision can be made.
Notes for Editors
The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive have a common objective to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy, to increase the size of the private sector and drive faster economic growth in the area.
The Ministerial Working Group was established to consider issues raised by the UK Government consultation on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy. A response to this consultation was published on 20 December 2012.
The Group first met in December 2011, when it agreed a programme of work. It met again in March 2012 to discuss progress.