Stephen Farry stated: “The cuts announced today by the Treasury are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the financial challenges facing Northern Ireland. The £130m share of £6m will be dwarfed by greater hits over coming years.
“Alliance has warned off the particular dangers of Northern Ireland being tipped back into recession in the context of steep cuts in public expenditure here before the economy has the opportunity to fully recover. But while the Executive now has the opportunity to defer local cuts until next year, it does need to think carefully on what approach it does take. Complete deferral of the cuts would risk much deeper cuts in public expenditure in due course. The right approach is going to be a balanced one.
“This new financial context further emphasises the urgency of the Executive putting its own house in order. Alliance has consistently highlighted the need for government to make a start on addressing the costs of managing a divided society.
“Furthermore, the Executive cannot afford to keep ducking what is an inevitable decision on the introduction of water charges. The continued deferral of water charges creates a major distortion in our expenditure profile and requires much greater pain in key public services such as health and education that would be faced by our counterparts in neighbouring jurisdictions. Surely, the matter can be no longer about whether water charges are introduced but rather how they are introduced in terms of fairness and a link to ability to pay. For any party that care about social justice and quality and accessible public services this is the only honest position to take.”