Alliance have submitted an amendment to the debate which Mrs Cochrane will propose, which calls on the Executive to also tackle waste in public services.
Judith Cochrane MLA said: “In recent budget debates, Alliance were criticised by the DUP and Sinn Fein for putting forward alternative proposals such as fair revenue raising initiatives to fund public services, but recent decisions have now shown that they both support such measures.
“Many people will be surprised that Sinn Fein have brought forward a debate in the Assembly on revenue raising when they have been so vocal in opposition to such measures being introduced in Dublin. I wonder if this is another example of there being a difference in policy by Sinn Fein on either side of the border. It is also strange as Sinn Fein were so vocal against last week’s announcement on the reintroduction of prescription charges.
“It was this announcement by the DUP Health Minister which showed that the DUP are in favour of revenue raising measures despite the rhetoric by their party leader at their conference last year.
“We were concerned that the recent budget was being balanced on a 100% cuts basis – something that other governments would not consider. There should be consideration of fair revenue raising and the ending of inappropriate subsidies. The difficult decisions were ducked by the DUP and Sinn Fein that would have made our finances more sustainable, yet they appear to be now backing measures that they initially wouldn’t support.
“While Alliance welcomes this debate, we believe that the Executive should also be tackling waste in public services as well as putting forward fair revenue raising measures. The recent Stormont House Agreement contained commitments to tackle the cost of division and Alliance will be holding the other parties to account to ensure that these targets are met.
“The decision to give protection to the Education and Health budgets has reduced the incentive to reduce waste in these departments even though we know that great levels of inefficiency exists within their budgets. We should be reviewing how our money is spent instead of just making cuts that won’t make our finances more sustainable.”
Sinn Fein motion: Reductions in the Block Grant
That this Assembly recognises that the persistent reductions to the block grant create significant challenges for the Executive in the delivery of frontline services; welcomes agreement on the Budget 2015-16; further recognises that the Executive has additional revenue generating powers which have not been explored fully as part of the budget process; and calls on the Executive to collectively identify progressive options to raise local revenue and increase the local budget.
[Mr D McKay, Mr M Ó Muilleoir, Ms M Boyle]
Leave out all after ‘frontline services’; and insert:
“further recognises that the Executive has additional revenue-generating powers which have not been explored fully as part of the budget process; recognises that there has not been a consistent approach to reducing waste and pursuing public sector reform to ensure that additional resources are available for frontline services; and calls on the Executive to identify, collectively, progressive options to raise local revenue, tackle waste and pursue public service reform to effectively increase the local budget.”
[Mrs J Cochrane, Mr C Lyttle, Mr S Dickson]