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Dickson Welcomes Job Support Plans but Local Schemes Needed Quickly

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has welcomed measures announced by the Chancellor to help protect jobs and increase consumer confidence.

Mr Dickson commented: “This week the Chancellor published a number of UK Government interventions in ‘A Plan for Jobs’. Many of the schemes included are welcome and apply automatically to Northern Ireland. For example, a temporary cut to VAT to 5% for hospitality and tourism and a voucher scheme for meals, will help businesses get back up and running, as well as keep NI competitive with the Republic of Ireland, where VAT is already lower for hospitality.

“In regards to the Jobs Retention Scheme, a bonus giving £1,000 to businesses who bring back employees from furlough has also been announced. Although I welcome this, a more targeted approach could have meant greater investment in key sectors, especially those that will face considerable challenges for some time.

“Much of the rest of the announcements focussed on skills and supporting people into work, which are devolved matters. Therefore, the Executive needs to act quickly with the additional funds that will be allocated, to put together a tailored local economic stimulus plan to protect jobs, improve skills and promote a Green Recovery in Northern Ireland.

“In particular, young people have previously faced the worst of recessions in the past, and so we need to ensure that youth unemployment and skills are front and centre of any plan. An example of such a scheme could be that introduced by my Alliance Colleague, and former Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry MP, which incentivised the employment and subsidised the wages of young people.

“This level of intervention is welcome, but given the major challenges facing us, more will need to be done to support our economy, jobs and society through this crisis.”

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