1 year ago

real partnership


Working together,

Working together, growing together Working in partnership with others who want to make Northern Ireland work, the Ulster Unionist Party will set a new agenda to end the decade long institutional corruption of the DUP/Sinn Fein Spadocracy. We are making a clear commitment to the long-term economic viability of Northern Ireland within the UK and setting out a hopeful vision of a shared future for all our people. Growing the Northern Ireland economy must be the main outcome of any Programme for Government. The Ulster Unionist Party believes that a Programme for Government should be supported by a manufacturing strategy, a new energy policy, with a refocus on Research and Development to broaden our skills base and empower the next generation with the know how to succeed in a rapidly changing employment market. It should be a simple, well understood message with clear and easily measured deliverables; deliverables which Ministers, senior civil servants and departments will be accountable and responsible for and which should be linked to their promotion, salary and retention. 2/20: 20/2 In the simplest terms it should be the task of the Executive to set the conditions to achieve: • Annual 2% growth in our GDP • 20% of our economy from manufacturing • £20 Billion worth of Exports (making NI approach self-sufficiency), rather than the relatively limited £6.5 Billion we have now • all helping make a successful and vibrant place to live heading into our 2nd Century We need to change Northern Ireland’s business culture, invest in success, take risks and build for the next century. The Ulster Unionist Party advocates establishing an independent NI Strategy Board tasked with delivering advice on achieving 2/20:20/2. This will report directly to the Executive and will publish annual reports that will act as an independent assessment on how we are doing. All promotion and performance related pay of all senior civil servants and quangos will be linked to how Northern Ireland performs. Our ‘Manufacturing Strategy’ needs to be a key deliverable of this cultural shift, and linked to it will be addressing skills shortages and investing in new skills, a proper energy policy and framework, all set around our vision for a shared future. Working together, growing together. 20 | The Ulster Unionist Party | Manifesto 2017

Filling the energy vacuum This policy area is so important that we are producing a stand-alone policy paper which will complement this manifesto and set out policy proposals to ensure our energy security and literally keep the lights on. Suffice to say, in the wake of the Renewable Heat debacle and the unfolding mismatch between wind energy subsidies and connection to the electricity grid, Northern Ireland has an energy policy vacuum. As our system operator, SONI, has warned - unless action is taken they are not confident that Northern Ireland will be able to keep the lights on in 2021 A Manufacturing Strategy for Northern Ireland The Ulster Unionist Party’s efforts to persuade the Executive to devise a bespoke manufacturing strategy was supported by all parties in the Assemblybar the DUP and Sinn Fein coalition. The loss of quality jobs must be addressed by an Executive with a plan. Northern Ireland PLC cannot afford to see its manufacturing base further reduced. Our plan, building on the work already done by both Unions and employer organisations would address the competitive disadvantages of doing business in Northern Ireland and set a goal of matching the European median target of having 20% of GDP related to the manufacturing industry. We continue to support a long term commitment to keep the 30% cap on industrial rates as recognition of the vital importance of the sector. Moving from dependency to self sufficiency To drive a transformation of the economy, we must move away from dependency on the block grant from Westminster to self-sufficiency based around growing manufacturing and exports. Delays in reducing Corporation Tax, and the general risk averse approach to business and the economy, has stifled initiative. It was the Ulster Unionists who first proposed a reduction of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland to encourage inward investment. Whilst it remains our policy, any potential benefits are rapidly ebbing away. Delay and lack of political will, combined by the obvious lack of financial acumen at the Executive table has blunted what could have been a transformative fiscal lever. Investing in future skills As we head towards Brexit, increased investment in R&D is happening everywhere in the UK except Northern Ireland. Here, the Executive has been actively disinvesting in our Universities. The last Executive failed to produce a new financing model for 3rd level education. As it stands there is a £55m black hole, which if left unaddressed will lead to a further reduction of subject options and student numbers with our Universities falling down the performance league tables. In the absence of details on a budget for 2017/18, and continuing uncertainties about the full financial liabilities of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, a short term reprioritisation of resources within the Department of the Economy will have to be made. The Ulster Unionist Party believes that Invest NI may have to suffer a cut in order to find the money to protect higher and further education budgets, pending the implementation of a new sustainable funding model, which protects the enviable record of Northern Ireland in keeping higher education accessible to students from lower socio economic backgrounds. Tourism For Northern Ireland to achieve the target of being a £1 billion industry by 2020 we need to make sure that we attract a fair share of the overseas market being targeted by Tourism Ireland. That means creating a more level playing field for our airports regarding air passenger duty and removing the barriers tourists face including arcane entertainment licencing laws. Above all, to create a positive image of a welcoming region looking forward with all our people feeling at ease with our place in the world, we need a change of government at Stormont. The Ulster Unionist Party is ready to lead that change. Manifesto 2017 | The Ulster Unionist Party | 21

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