Cochrane: UUP proposal to replace current budget is unwise

Alliance Finance spokesperson, Judith Cochrane MLA, has dismissed the UUP’s proposals to rewrite the current budget, saying that by the time it was implemented it would only cover a matter of weeks before the next budgetary period. Mrs Cochrane was speaking during an Assembly debate brought by the UUP, who called on the Executive to bring forward a new budget for the remainder of the 2011/15 period.

Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Government Departments need certainty ahead of a financial year in order to act responsibly and allow them to deploy their allocated resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. The notion of rewriting the 2014/15 Budget, which only has a further six months left to run, is therefore unwise. The timescales required for this process would mean that it would only take effect with a couple of weeks remaining of the current budgetary year.

“We should be concentrating our efforts on ensuring that the new Budget for 2015/16 is completed with enough time to give Ministers some degree of space to plan.

“We have already seen the consequences of the failure to take a strategic approach to the June Monitoring Round and we do not want this to be repeated.

“The Alliance Ministers were the only ones to oppose those changes at the Executive. The UUP’s Minister described the decision as voodoo economics, yet he was only angry enough to abstain on the vote, while the SDLP Minister decided to give it his full support. While Alliance voiced our opposition to this agreement, our Ministers are pressing ahead with major reforms to reduce the level of cuts that our public services are facing.

“There is no doubt that the Executive needs to step up to the mark – tackle the costs of division and the difficult issues of reform, including in health and education and find other ways to raise revenue. We cannot maintain the status quo.”


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