The UUP’s ‘Plan B’ for the economy, which it announced earlier this week, amounts to begging Westminster for more money. Sandra Overend, the MLA who introduced the strategy, is right about one thing. It is certainly a simple plan.
Indeed it might even be more accurate to say that it is desperately simplistic.
Essentially the party has two ideas. Firstly it argues that, if a cut in corporation tax is not possible, the Executive should pursue – a cut in corporation tax – albeit at the lower rate which smaller firms pay. This is not a genuine alternative at all. NI Conservatives certainly agree that devolving powers to cut corporation tax is crucial and that Northern Ireland should show a united front in pursuing this objective. However the UUP has not devised a ‘Plan B’ in this regard, but has simply tweaked ‘Plan A’.
The party’s second suggestion is to lobby the Treasury for more money to spend on capital projects. To present our politicians’ age old ploy of shifting responsibility to Westminster as something new is little short of laughable.
It is deeply disappointing that the UUP has shown so little imagination and so little grasp of the other tools which can benefit our economy. It could talk about using the enterprise zone powers which the Executive already has at its disposal, it could urge action on business rates, it could highlight possible incentives for exporters or examine means of delivering finance for business on competitive terms. Instead we’ve got old ideas presented as something new.
Once again UUP members deserve something better from their leaders. It is clear that the UUP is not articulating a coherent centre-right economic vision for Northern Ireland. Rather it is the NI Conservatives who are listening and responding to the needs of business and enterprise.
NI Conservatives, Strangford