Stormont stalemate could "devastate" the NI construction industry

Stormont stalemate could "devastate" the NI construction industry

THE ongoing battle over welfare reform in the North of Ireland is putting the region’s construction sector at risk, industry leaders have claimed.

As politicians continue to disagree on the implementation of economic reforms outlined in the Stormont House Agreement, capital spending on building projects is reduced, say the Federation of Master Builders.

The organisation, which represents small and medium sized firms working across the building industry in Britain, believes the lack of “consensus” on the welfare reforms in the North will reduce capital spending in the region.

“Without a consensus on welfare, all other constituent parts of any future budget are in serious doubt,” Maire Nawaz, Director of FMB NI, said.

“This includes the £700m loan from the UK Treasury, used to fund the Public Sector Voluntary Exit Scheme, and the devolution of powers to decide on our own levels of corporation tax. If no deal on welfare is made, we can also expect another round of fines which will amount to £114m.”

She added: “These huge financial burdens will inevitably cause a reduction in capital spending on housing, schools, hospitals, roads and other construction projects. These cuts will undermine any chance of recovery for the NI construction sector, which will in turn have a devastating effect on the wider economy as the sector employs almost 10% of NI’s workforce.”

This week the FMB called on the NI Executive to reach an agreement and “set a realistic budget” to “unleash economic growth in Northern Ireland.”