The recent news about fewer public sector redundancies will be warmly welcomed in many parts of the UK but nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland.
The region is bracing itself for the fallout from economic problems and with many business inter-dependencies between the two countries, the impact will compound a difficult situation, according to our brokers there. Northern Ireland’s share of public sector cuts is about £128m on top of the £393m that government departments have already been told they must save in this financial year. The number of those claiming unemployment benefit rose to 58,600 in October, the highest
monthly rise in 12 UK regions. With more public sector cuts to come, businesses that depend on government contracts and public sector employees are vulnerable. Unsurprisingly, these worries have translated into house price falls.
The average price in Northern Ireland has fallen below £150,000 for the first time in nearly five years, according to a survey by the University of Ulster, that put the average price at £148,243 – down from £163,459 the previous quarter. Faced with this backdrop we should expect an increase in emigration in the coming years.
The large public sector in Northern Ireland has been a necessary part of its history and political structure. If it is to be dismantledthere should be consideration of the wider political impact.
If the cuts can be less dramatic than first thought then Northern Ireland may deserve special consideration.