Budget delay risks chaos for public and community sector, says Farry

Alliance Finance spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has warned of the impact of continued delays in agreeing an Executive Budget, saying it will impact the public and community sectors.

Dr Farry said the Executive needed to agree a Budget as a matter of urgency, as doing so had become a casualty of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.

“Time is not a luxury the Executive has. This is not something which can wait much into the new year, let alone be dragged out almost up to the beginning of the incoming financial year.

“The publication of the Budget allows Departments to work out the detailed budget lines lying beneath the headline allocations, even before the Assembly formally adopts it. In turn, they pass on allocations to a range of arms-length bodies and also many organisations in the community and voluntary sector. These bodies include vast organisations such as the health trusts and the Education Authority.

“Already due to the UK Autumn Statement at the end of November, any notion of a draft Budget has been abandoned, so the final Budget will hit us cold. Delays have real consequences for public sector organisations and the community and voluntary sector wanting to plan ahead. For some organisations come the beginning of January, they may have to put staff on protective notice.

“Resources are already incredibly tight across the public sector, and every ounce of efficiency does need to be squeezed out to maximise the impact on public services and the ability to transform the economy. Delays make planning even more difficult, and risk reducing the impact of resources.”

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