In a meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer later today, the Alliance delegation will focus instead on policy proposals for a better economic and environmental future, without the need for reliance on Government subsidies.
Alliance Assembly Enterprise Spokesperson Séan Neeson will say: “It is unworthy of politicians to demand yet more hand outs for Northern Ireland.We are already vastly subsidised. There is plenty of money there, the problem is we do not use it properly.
“Instead, we have a set of concrete proposals, based on the Government’s newly active ‘Shared Future’ agenda, which will deliver better public services, promote environmental protection and reduce organized crime without requiring any significant transfer of funds. This is what responsible leadership should be about.
“Firstly, we can provide better public services for the same price if we stop segregating everything. Segregated schooling, housing and health facilities simply mean money that should be invested in frontline education, social and care services is instead spent on maintaining dilapidated buildings. With that money allocated more sensibly, we could afford much higher levels of education, housing and health without any water charges or rates rises.
“Secondly, we have called for Northern Ireland to be used as a model for rates relief for properties using renewable energy sources. Instead of paying for the administration of a system of subsidies, it would be more effective simply to deliver rates relief. This would mean an immediate encouragement for everyone to improve the environment around us, and use energy more efficiently.
“Finally, we have called for the Chancellor to look at the whole issue of excise duty on fuel in Northern Ireland. Not only is the Treasury losing money to fuel bought across the border, but the price in clearing up spillages or dealing with organised crime based on fuel smuggling is far too high. Reducing excuse duty would increase income for public services while reducing it for those involved with organised crime.
“These are constructive, deliverable proposals that would have a significant impact on the quality of life for everyone in Northern Ireland. It is time we ended the ‘hand-out culture’, and instead got on with governing this place properly.”
NOTE: The Alliance delegation, headed by Party Leader David Ford MLA, is due to meet the Chancellor at Stormont at 14.10 hrs.