Stewart Dickson MLA said: “During recent budget debates, I warned of the looming crisis facing our public services due to the failure to implement welfare reform. Yet, one month on, it would appear that there has been little progress.
“I would say again to the SDLP and Sinn Fein that they are playing a very dangerous game. As well as the financial penalties that are being imposed, Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, is facing further substantial cuts in the coming years which will also have to be addressed. However, there is also a need for the DUP to work proactively to resolve this issue.
“As I have said before, we share many of the concerns about the changes to welfare that have been implemented by the United Kingdom Government, and we opposed those changes at Westminster. However, the UK Government has made it perfectly clear that they are not prepared to give us any further concessions.
“Until welfare reform is resolved, we will continue to face major uncertainties. Until the Assembly faces up to its responsibilities, we will not know what further sanctions could arise and what the implications will be for Departments. The Finance Minister had indicated that Departments would face 1.5% cuts, yet the June monitoring report has not appeared so Ministers do not what is happening to with their budgets.
“We must be prepared to take difficult decisions or we will bring financial disaster.”