Stephen Farry MLA stated:
“The Budget has been announced and it is now time for the local political parties to get on with governing Northern Ireland, taking the difficult decisions around the implementation of Stormont House, and shaping the future of this region in line with the new financial framework at a UK-level.
“Some elements of this Budget will be beneficial for Northern Ireland. For example, the continued drop in the UK rate of corporation tax will make any localised alternative more affordable. However, the steep and severe cuts to welfare spending will hit Northern Ireland particularly hard, given the profile of our population. There are better ways of incentivising people into work than hitting payments, and it is through local and affordable modifications to the UK welfare system that we can better protect local people, in addition to taking a more benevolent and strategic approach to training and employment measures
“This Budget also reinforces the importance of devolution in other ways. Northern Ireland is not bound by the proposal to transform remaining maintenance grants for loans for students in higher education, and local decisions can be taken in Northern Ireland that better reflect the local commitment to encourage young people, in particular those from a less well-off background, into further study.
“Without functioning devolution none of this would be possible. Instead, we would end up being governed just like every other part of the UK, with the interests of London and the South East often dominating.
“Northern Ireland is facing financial meltdown in the absence of implementation of the local version of welfare reform and the wider delivery of Stormont House. For no good reason, some parties wanted to wait until after this Budget statement. The Northern Ireland political process cannot be allowed to drift over the summer; instead the parties need to return to the negotiating table.”