Speaking ahead of the Chancellor’s statement on the Comprehensive Spending Review, Stephen Farry MLA stated: “While Alliance accepts the need for the UK Government to address the national deficit, we continue to have concerns at the pace of rebalancing the public finances, particularly given the fragile nature of the Northern Ireland economy and other weaker regions in the UK, and our continued legacy from violence and division.
“Nevertheless, with the CSR announcement, the responsibility clearly shifts to the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to make our decisions.
“The full value of the resources available needs to be maximised to grow our local economy and to provide modern public services. Early decisions around a draft Budget will allow space for proper planning and collaboration between Departments and also facilitate full public consultation.
“Ultimately, what matters is how bold and radical the Executive is prepared to be. There cannot be any sacred cows. In the context of real financial pressure, the luxury of wasting money in a divided society cannot be tolerated. While it will take time to find the savings that will result from a shared future, it is critical that a start is made.
“Alliance also believes that there is untapped potential for shared service savings being found on a cross-border or all-island basis. Furthermore, a stronger focus on early intervention and preventive measures can avoid greater cost pressures after problems develop.
“Finally, no government in the world would seek to meet a large financial challenge through spending measures alone. Therefore, revenue raising has to be considered as part of any package, including water charges. Not doing this means even steeper cuts in vital public services which will hurt the most vulnerable.”