Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland corporation tax cut 'next year'

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Media captionAndrew Neil reports from Belfast where 70 per cent of people work in the public sector

Treasury sources have told the BBC that a lowering of corporation tax in NI could happen next year.

Corporation tax is at 28% in the UK but only 12.5% in the Republic of Ireland.

BBC presenter Andrew Neill told the Politics Show the treasury had long been against different rates of corporation tax within the UK.

"But the politics show has learned from senior treasury sources that the London government is indeed minded to grant Northern Ireland its wish," he said.

"Although it might not be allowed to go as low as 12.5%, since Ireland is under EU pressure to raise it, any decent cut would make Northern Ireland more attractive to private enterprise."

Campaigners for the move argue that bringing the tax in line with the Republic could help invigorate the economy in Northern Ireland.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said her party had long supported the idea of "equalising" corporation tax between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"When an investor comes here from the US or the far east, they will go to the region that has the lower level of corporation tax," she said.

"Hence the south of Ireland has seen many good examples of foreign direct investment and we in the north have lost out."

DUP MLA Peter Weir said cutting corporation tax would be something that should be "phased in".

"There are certain implications with regard to corporation tax. I would like to see this as something which takes place over the life of the next assembly," he said.