David Ford MLA said: “After the short term decision to borrow £100million to deal with the crisis this year, there is an urgent need for the Executive to agree a realistic budget for 2015/16. We must start making difficult decisions now. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road.
“While there have been claims that this crisis has been solely caused by Tory cuts, the truth is that this problem has been mainly self-inflicted by the long term financial mismanagement and populism of recent years by the DUP and Sinn Fein. This has been further compounded by the short term stupidity of the SDLP and Sinn Fein who have opposed the implementation of welfare reform.
“The Executive must agree to introduce a number of revenue raising measures, although this would only be part of an overall package to stabilise our finances and improve efficiency in different Departments. There must be no protected status for Education, while Health should look to make savings in certain areas where possible. We must have serious discussions about the Executive’s priorities rather than top slicing the budget of every Department.
“There is a need to rebuild the trust that has been lost between parties in recent years. We will not be able to reach agreement on key issues such as our finances if parties continue to break their word on deals.”