Economy

 

Alliance is clear that robust and sustainable public spending is essential to underpin economic growth and sustain quality public services. Without a responsible and mature approach to expenditure, we are putting at risk our ability to deliver the sort of economy and society we want.

 

Fair and Progressive Taxation

Tax evasion costs both the UK Treasury and the governments of developing nations substantial amounts of money each year.

Brexit will also have a negative impact of the rate of economic growth and accordingly tax receipts. By contrast, stopping Brexit will provide a Remain bonus for current financial planning.

Additional spending power could be used to promote economic growth and improve public services.

Alliance will support taxation that is progressive and fair, so that the wealthiest people in society pay a bigger proportional share. We support:

  • Simplification of the payment and administration of income tax and national insurance.
  • Increasing the tax-free allowance for income tax so that lower-earners keep more of what they earn.
  • An evidence-based approach as to what the highest rate of tax should be.
  • Taxes which tackle inequality, such as on very high-value properties or changes to inheritance tax.
  • A wider range of VAT exemptions, including zero-rating both sanitary products and sunscreen, and lower rates for hospitality and housing renovation.
  • An international Financial Transactions Tax and, at a UK-wide level, retaining the banking levy.

We also support new legislation to:

  • Require foreign companies to pay tax on those profits generated from within the UK.
  • Review current tax relief schemes to ensure they are meeting their intended purpose and are not being exploited.
  • Introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, setting a target for HMRC to reduce the tax gap.
  • Reform rules that allow companies to avoid tax in both the UK and in developing countries.
  • Improve transparency by opening up companies’ reports into their tax activities to the public.
  • Strengthen the enforcement of and penalties for tax evasion.
  • Create a register of beneficial interests for all international companies.

 

Modernising and Re-balancing Our Economy

Northern Ireland has lost out as the result of a deeply unbalanced economy within the UK. There is a heavy focus around the south-east of England and those sectors which predominate there. For example, only 3/12 UK regions are net contributors to UK Treasury.

Devolution should allow us to develop our own proposals for economic development, but it is important that those economic functions that remain with the UK Government should be exercised in a way that maximises economic development across the whole of the UK.

To achieve this, Alliance will:

  • Seek to best use the current low cost of borrowing to finance infrastructure and capital-spending programmes.
  • Support regional industries by boosting research, skills, infrastructure and innovation across the entire UK.
  • Continue to support the development of broadband, high-speed mobile internet access and similar telecommunications projects in such a way that ensures all parts of the UK benefit from this technology.
  • Support expansion of the British Business Bank to perform a more central role in the economy, to ensure that profitable, viable small and medium-sized businesses have access to capital, even when the rest of the commercial banking system can’t provide it.
  • Support a legal duty on the UK Government to ensure its economic policies are assessed on their likelihood of reducing regional inequality in the economy.
  • Support the introduction of a capital £50 billion Regional Rebalancing Programme for infrastructure spend across the nations and regions of the UK, with local and devolved authorities given a say in how it is used, reinforced by Just Transition funding for areas particularly affected by the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

 

In addition, we want to see Northern Ireland maximise its access to funding opportunities that exist on a UK level. The NI Executive and the UK Government must work together to ensure that Northern Ireland has the skills and ability to attract greater levels of funding from projects such as:

  • UK Research Councils, which fund academic research across the UK.
  • Continued access to competitive EU funds, such as Horizon2020/Horizon Europe and Erasmus+.

 

Supporting Local Economic Development and Trade

Alliance is committed to developing the local economy in Northern Ireland. Our aim is to make Northern Ireland the most innovative and dynamic regional economy in Europe.

However, to do this, we can no longer rely on what made us prosperous in the past. We must invest in the skills infrastructure and harness the creativity needed to ensure our economy is fit for the 21st Century. Improving our level of productivity is an essential part of any new economic approach.

Alliance believes that despite the challenges facing the economy, Northern Ireland has the resources to become stronger and more competitive. We have an enterprising and resilient business base; a youthful and well-educated population; a strong manufacturing base; excellent research and innovation attributes; a world-class telecommunications network; strong international links; and unique natural and cultural resources. Our strengths far outweigh our weaknesses. Taking advantage of these strengths will create the right conditions for growth and address many of the weaknesses in our economy.

There is a role for Westminster to help Northern Ireland develop these strengths and Alliance MPs will work alongside the Executive to do this.

In order to promote economic development and trade, we will:

  • Argue for changes to UK-wide procurement rules that make it easier for small businesses to bid. Examples include improving information available to applicants, tackling the complexity of the process and reducing the ‘bundling’ of procurement contracts.
  • Ensure economic policy is assessed for its impact on small businesses.
  • If Brexit happens, we will work with the UK Government and Invest NI to ensure that any trade deals struck reflect the business environment in Northern Ireland and enable local businesses to be involved in trade missions.

 

Science, Skills and Innovation

Alliance believes that the future of the economy will be based on securing high-tech, highly innovative and highly-skilled jobs.

Creating such an economy needs to be based on work that would be undertaken by both the UK Government and the NI Executive. Both have powers at their disposal that would enable Northern Ireland to invest heavily in the sort of economy we will need to prosper in the future.

In Westminster we will support the following changes to improve the standing of science, skills and innovation:

  • Increasing investment in science and research through the UK Research Councils. There is a clear link globally between state investment in science and economic prosperity.
  • Abolition of the Apprentice Levy as an inefficient and distorting intervention to support skills investment, replacing it with greater direct government spending on skills programmes co-designed with the business community and other stakeholders.
  • Supporting Northern Ireland’s universities in drawing down greater levels of science and research funding from both the Research Councils and the EU.
  • Specifically identifying where gaps exist in both funding and infrastructure for science in Northern Ireland.
  • Investing in a wide range of programmes to assist young people in gaining appropriate skills and working with specific industries where appropriate.
  • Ensuring that any immigration system implemented after Brexit enables those who are highly–skilled in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and related disciplines to continue to migrate to the UK to work.