Coronavirus: Conor Murphy calls for more financial flexibility for NI

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Mr Murphy, along with Kate Forbes and Rebecca Evans, made the call ahead of the Chancellor’s summer statement

NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy has joined with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts to urge the UK government to ease “rigid fiscal rules”.

Mr Murphy, along with Kate Forbes and Rebecca Evans, made the call ahead of the chancellor’s summer statement.

They say more financial flexibility will help them respond better to the coronavirus crisis.

They want assurances that will give them the freedom to switch capital funding to day-to-day revenue.

The ministers are also calling for an end to the arbitrary limits on borrowing and more clarity on details around the forthcoming spending review.

Mr Murphy said it was “crucial” that devolved administrations were “equipped to respond swiftly and effectively to the challenges arising from Covid-19”.

He said: “More financial flexibility can help us deal with these challenges and use our budgets to support public services, protect the vulnerable, and deliver an economic recovery.”

Kickstart scheme

The chancellor is to announce a £2bn “kickstart scheme” on Wednesday to create more jobs for young people.

The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

It will cover England, Scotland and Wales, but the government said it would provide additional funding to Northern Ireland for a similar scheme.

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PA Media

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The chancellor is to announce a £2bn “kickstart scheme” on Wednesday to create more jobs for young people

Mr Sunak is also expected to announce a temporary stamp duty holiday in Northern Ireland and England to stimulate the property market.

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This would exempt the first £500,000 of all property sales from the tax.

BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nicholas Watt said the chancellor may also introduce a temporary VAT cut to help the hospitality sector, which has been hit hard in the pandemic.

The chancellor’s statement is expected at 12:30 BST (11:30 GMT), after Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

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