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New inquiry: Investment in Northern Ireland

9 November 2021

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine investment in Northern Ireland. The new inquiry will investigate the impact of UK Government investment strategies in the region and ask what more can be done to encourage new jobs and economic growth in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has experienced decades of under-spending on skills and infrastructure, as well as a lack of inward investment. Talented local people feel little option but to seek economic opportunities elsewhere, while 40% of working age adults lack sufficient qualifications needed to support a modern, evolving economy.

Recent UK Government initiatives to improve this situation have included the New Deal for Northern Ireland, and the New Decade, New Approach agreement, signed in 2020 and pledging hundreds of millions in infrastructure investment. Four City Deals are also being developed to encourage growth at a local level. While in the recent Budget a new trade and investment hub was announced for Belfast, along with allocations from the Levelling Up Fund. The inquiry will examine the likely impact of these measures and ask what more can be done to meet their aims.

Chair's comment

Launching the inquiry, Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee, Simon Hoare MP, said: 

“Long-term underinvestment in Northern Ireland coupled to periods of political instability has created a situation where the best and brightest often feel they have little choice but to build their careers elsewhere. At the same time the prosperity that has been created in the region has not been enjoyed by all sections of society.

“The Government believe that the post-pandemic world, Brexit and the net zero revolution present Northern Ireland with an ‘historic opportunity’ to attract investment.

“With a range of investment schemes up and running, including the New Deal for Northern Ireland, City Deals, and foreign direct investment initiatives, and more to come in the form of Levelling Up Fund money and the Shared Prosperity Fund, the Government clearly has plans not only to deliver investment, but to encourage business to do the same.

“Our inquiry seeks to understand the impact of these measures, gain a deeper understanding of the mood of business and explore the relationship between skills, educators and employers.”

The inquiry will also examine the wider work that will need to take place in order to make Northern Ireland a more attractive place for UK and foreign businesses to invest. This will include the education and training programmes necessary to develop a skilled and adaptive workforce. It will also consider the unique challenges and opportunities that Northern Ireland will face in driving investment growth, in particular the impact of regulatory divergence from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Terms of Reference

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is inviting submissions of written evidence by 17 January 2022 addressing one or more of the following areas:

  • Steps the UK Government can take to encourage investment in Northern Ireland, including through the Levelling Up Fund, Shared Prosperity Fund and Internal Market Act
  • Steps the UK Government can take to ensure investment, including foreign direct investment, is economically effective
  • The economic effectiveness of investment under the New Deal for Northern Ireland and New Decade, New Approach funding
  • The potential effect of City Deals on economic growth in Northern Ireland
  • Steps that business can take to invest effectively in Northern Ireland
  • Steps the UK Government can take to encourage investment that addresses the skills gap and increases employment opportunities for people with few or no qualifications
  • The potential impact on investment of GB regulatory divergence from NI
  • Steps the UK Government can take to support the decarbonisation of industry in Northern Ireland and stimulate investment in a sustainable economy
  • Delivery of the prosperity agenda of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Relationships between schools and local Universities
  • Assessments of the understanding of the importance of education
  • Status of technical, vocational education and apprenticeships
  • Identifying sectors of investment and employment potential

Further information

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