Bucks is a Silicon Valley institution for breakfast. Located in Woodside just off I280 it is without doubt one of the most eclectic places for a meeting.
I’m sitting here waiting to meet my contact from InvestNI (INI) and debating the choice between Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. I guess I am in the mood for eggs.
Yesterday the British Government announced cutting $135bn from the budget over the next 5 years resulting in about a 25% cut, across the board, in government funding. There is some ring fencing for Education and Health but it is expected that 500,000 civil servants will find themselves unemployed pretty soon.
And today HM Government announced new regulations and a levy to be imposed on banks which will raise about $2.5bn in a full year. This levy is to provide the money needed to insulate the economy from dramatic changes in the market, as happened in October 2008, and to encourage banks to be slightly more risk averse.
So in two days the UK landscape has changed dramatically. UK government spending is going to all but disappear for everything except essential services and any bank operating in the UK (including foreign owned banks) are subject to new levies and regulations.
The question is what does this mean for InvestNI which is funded by the UK government? Will they see their ability to invest in new projects curtailed? Will they have to withdraw from the investments they are already making?
Given that 70% of the workforce in Northern Ireland are in some way funded from Westminster what is the impact going to be on unemployment in Ulster. The economic growth we have seen in the last couple of decades may disappear. Unemployment may return to 10% or more. And what then will fill the vacuum?
Violence? Sectarian attacks to redress some ancient slight or offense or grievance or crime?
We cannot allow this to degenerate once more into chaos, violence and recrimination.
We have to make a stand. Perhaps the UK government cannot afford to subsidize us any longer? We have to invest … in ourselves.