Dr Stephen Farry stated:
“Alliance opposed the Executive’s recent budget for 2008-2011 on a number of grounds, including the potential under-funding of public services.
“Much of the financial plans are dependent upon at least 3% efficiency savings being found. Alliance is all for efficiency savings. Indeed, we would wish to be more challenging on efficiency savings by directing money from segregated provision to shared public services for the entire community.
“Therefore for Alliance, efficiency savings are about shifting resources from less efficient and redundant practices, to meet new policy challenges. There are matters which no longer have the same priority that they once had. There are always better ways of providing existing services. But as resources are freed up, they need to be reinvested in new priorities. The public are clearly aware of new challenges in health, housing and education that need to be resourced.
“But the fear in the wider community is that efficiency savings will mean public services carry out fewer and fewer tasks, with less resources and less staff. Efficiency savings become little more than a euphemism for cuts.
“The Executive parties have passed the buck to the different trusts and agencies to deliver these ‘efficiency savings’. However, it is the four party administration that has agreed the new financial framework and they should be held to account for what is about to unfold across the public sector.”