Northern Ireland

Corporation tax working group to meet next month

Owen Paterson
Image caption Owen Paterson announced the working group at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month

The first meeting of the joint Westminster and Stormont ministerial group on corporation tax will take place next month.

Devolving the power to cut corporation tax is the Northern Ireland Executive's key idea to boost the economy.

It has been strongly supported by the Secretary of State for NI Owen Paterson.

The first meeting of the working group of government and Executive ministers is scheduled for 14 November.

The Executive need to persuade the Treasury and they need to negotiate a price which doesn't take too much money out of spending on public services.

Stormont wants to reduce the tax to equal, or even below, the Irish Republic's rate of 12.5%.

That would mean giving up a portion of funding from Westminster equal to the tax lost.

The cost has been estimated as anything between £100m and £500m.

The purpose of the joint group is to focus on the detail and negotiate a price.

There had been concerns growing at Stormont that the coalition government was going cold on the idea, but news of a first formal meeting of ministers to progress work will hearten supporters.

A Treasury consultation on the idea is complete, but has not yet been published.

The Stormont negotiating team will be led by the First and Deputy First Ministers with the finance and enterprise ministers.

From Westminster, the Secretary of State and his deputy Hugo Swire will attend, along with the Treasury Secretary David Gauke.

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