Northern Ireland corporation tax decision close
04 October 2012
Posted by: SAIT Technical
By Mark Hennessy (Irish Times)
A DECISION on proposals to let Northern Ireland cut its corporation tax rate, so that it can match the Republic's 12.5 per cent, is edging closer, Democratic Unionist MLA and Stormont junior minister Jonathan Bell has said.
Retaining a belief that the Treasury in London can be persuaded of the merits of the plan, Mr Bell said that there "is a growing realisation that a game-changer” is needed if Northern Ireland is to be able to reduce its dependency on public sector jobs.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, who supports the call, said the Treasury's opposition is obvious, since it fears that it could spur demands for similar changes elsewhere in the UK.
Speaking at an event organised by the peace and reconciliation group, Champ, on the margins of the Labour Party's conference in Manchester, Mr Nesbitt said it is time "for Plan B”, urging cuts in taxation for small businesses, if necessary throughout the UK.
It had, he said, doubled its original estimate of what the change would mean for tax revenues there – a crucial issue since the lost tax take would be reduced from the £8 billion block grant that NI receives annually from London.
Labour's shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Vernon Coaker, said the influence of Westminster decisions on Northern Ireland is underestimated in an era of devolved rule, pointing to the impact of London-imposed welfare benefits cuts.