Question Time: Finance and Personnel Monday 26 January 2015

Fears around the budget set aside for education were put to the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Simon Hamilton, during today’s Question Time with Members keen to learn what consideration the Stormont House Agreement affords schools and learning. The Stormont House Agreement provides up to £500m of new funding over the next 10 years to support shared and integrated education. The Minister conceded that “whilst Northern Ireland has a very good education system and that many come through it with the highest of qualifications and can convert those qualifications into a good university education, university degrees and into well-paying jobs, there are some who unfortunately slip through the net” which is why he is so delighted that he was able to boost the education budget by £63m and the Employment and Learning budget by £35m.

Members were also interested in finding out more about the upcoming devolution of corporation tax and what it might mean for the Northern Ireland economy. Mr Hamilton welcomed the plans as positive news and revealed that “research conducted by Ulster University's economic policy centre suggests that, if a reduced rate of 12·5% were implemented from April 2017, productivity would be 5·9% higher by 2033 than it would otherwise have been. In addition, the economy would be 11% larger, and 37,500 net new jobs would be created.”

During Question Time the Minister also answered questions on Departmental staffing and, during the Topical Questions period, on social housing, government contracts and waste energy.

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