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Billion pound Budget - but Belfast City Deal falls short

Belfast City Council is among six local authorities in the consortium allocated funding of £350 million in the Budget
Gary McDonald Business Editor

EVEN though the north benefitted to the tune of nearly £1 billion in yesterday's Budget, there was a degree of deflation that the widely touted £450 million towards the region's first-ever City Deal wasn't fully forthcoming.

Instead, the six councils behind the ambitious investment strategy will receive £350 million towards an initiative they believe can deliver 20,000 jobs over the next decade.

The Belfast Region City Deal partner councils - Antrim and Newtownabbey; Ards and North Down; Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh; Mid and East Antrim, and Newry and Down - have already pledged £100 million in matched funding, while Queen's University and Ulster University have committed £50 million.

Among the other measures announced by Philip Hammond for Northern Ireland included an extra £320 million for the Executive, which will increase its budget to more than £11.7 billion by 2020.

Shared and integrated cross-community education programmes are to receive an extra £300 million, enough to potentially create another 15 schools.

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And the Chancellor also allocated £2 million to help Belfast recover following the Primark fire in late August which has left more than a dozen businesses unable to trade and paralysed retail in the city centre.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley described the Budget it "fantastic" for the north, but Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey labelled the announcement as a "serious let down".

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