Alliance responds to Budget Outlook document

Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, has responded to NICS Briefing on the Budget Outlook for Northern Ireland, stressing that the absence of a functioning devolved Executive and a strategic approach to public spending is further compounding a difficult financial context, with further risks to the quality of public services and the potential of the economy.

Stephen Farry MLA said: “This Budget Outlook document demonstrates the political failures and missed opportunities in Northern Ireland over recent years, and in particular the consequences of a political vacuum over the past year.

“In all scenarios set out by the NI Civil Service, we will see across the board cuts and will bring a deep impact on public services and our ability to invest in transforming our economy.

“These next two financial years were always going to be difficult as we are having real terms cuts in the size of the Block Grant. But this should have been driving any NI Executive and political parties to act in a strategic way, to reform and transform public services, and to address the substantial costs that are involving in unnecessary duplication of services.

“Even a standstill was never going to be enough as there are so many pressures in terms of public services, dealing with the legacy of the past, and investing in skills and a wider industrial strategy. Other societies are making those types of investments, and in not doing so, Northern Ireland risks getting left even further behind.

“In other jurisdictions in these islands, governments are already well advanced in their budget-making process. Northern Ireland remains behind schedule, and at best we will see a budget agreed and implemented at the last minute. This delayed approach does nothing to assist proper planning and related efficient and effective provision of public services.

“There is an urgent need for a devolved Executive that can take proper strategic decisions and make changes in policy. Even swift action will not produce significant results for another financial year. But by contrast, further political delays will further delay reforms and compound Northern Ireland’s unsustainable public finances and compromise the quality of life and opportunities of the people of Northern Ireland.”

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