Public Consultation: Regional Jobs & Investment Bill

Across Northern Ireland, the life chances of far too many people are still determined by their postcode and levels of employment, earnings and qualifications continue to differ hugely between the highest and lowest performing Council areas. While there has been some acknowledgement that these geographic disparities in the economy should be addressed, there have been few meaningful steps taken to rebalance our economy. This imbalance is acutely felt in Derry and the North-West which tops the league tables of economic metrics everyone else wants to be at the bottom of, from high deprivation to low employment and investment.

Other countries like Germany, Australia and Serbia have introduced legislation as one method of combatting regional economic imbalances. Sinéad McLaughlin MLA is proposing to introduce legislation to help to address this challenge in Northern Ireland.

If passed, the Bill would create a legal responsibility on the government to focus, monitor and report on regional economic balance, so that we can take steps to address it. It creates obligations on the Department for the Economy to have due regard to regional economic imbalance and to publish a statement at the start of an Assembly term on the steps it will take to rebalance the economy. The Bill also places a statutory obligation on the Department for the Economy to ensure equitable provision of higher and further education across Northern Ireland, including by expanding higher education in the North-West. The Bill also creates a specific obligation on the economic development agency, Invest NI to develop and publish sub-regional economic targets and places duties on all other government Departments as well.

The questions in this consultation are intended to gather public views to better inform this legislation. This consultation will run from Friday 10th November to Friday 22nd December and we are grateful for your participation.

If you have any additional queries or would like to make a contribution to the Bill proposal by email or other means, please contact [email protected].

Are you responding as an individual or as an organisation?