Dr Stephen Farry MLA stated: “The scale of the cuts announced will be very challenging for Northern Ireland. While the revenue element of the Northern Ireland Block Grant may flatline in cash terms, in real terms with inflation factored in, this is projected to be a 7% cut by 2014-15. Despite the promises around the £18bn ten-year capital programme, this element of the Block Grant is be gutted with a 33% cut in actual terms over the four-year period. There will have to be a lot of catch-up in the next spending review if the UK Government is to meet its commitments.
“This situation is compounded by changes in welfare payments that will impact upon the spending power within the economy, as well as providing difficulties for those households directly affected. There can be no room for any complacency.
“With this CSR announcement, the ball is firmly in the court of the Executive and Assembly. There is much work to be done to put Northern Ireland’s public finances in order.
“Today’s cuts will be imposed on an existing public expenditure profile in Northern Ireland that is characterised by inefficiencies, such as the duplication of services in a divided society, populist unsustainable revenue raising decisions, and an inability to sufficiently invest in new opportunities such as the green economy.
“In addressing this challenge, the Executive must be prepared to be bold and radical, and provide leadership. The full value of the resources available must be maximised to grow our local economy and provide modern public services. Early decisions around a draft Budget are now critical.
“Alliance recommends actions to find savings through building a shared future; developing the potential of cross-border co-operation on shared services; placing a stronger emphasis on early intervention and prevention; properly benchmarking all policies and spending commitments against our neighbouring jurisdictions.
“Alliance is also prepared to accept that some additional revenue-raising in Northern Ireland is required. No government would seek to address our local challenge through spending cuts alone. Not addressing difficult issues such as water charges would mean even steeper cuts in vital public services which will hurt the most vulnerable.”