David Ford MLA said: “In December last year, I said that the Stormont House Agreement was a deal to do a deal. Sadly, five months on, some people still aren’t prepared to make that deal and the institutions are now in real difficulties.
“It is beyond doubt that the clear way to resolve this impasse is by implementing the Stormont House Agreement and then agreeing a responsible budget, but the commitment of the other parties to achieving this is uncertain. At the meeting with the Secretary of State, we urged the other parties to agree a serious process of engagements to resolve the impasse but other parties were not willing.
“The DUP’s plans for a budget based on the assumption of welfare being agreed, has been described as being a phantom budget -a description that reflects the difficulty in getting people to believe that it is a real option.
“The reality is that we should have resolved the welfare issue two years ago, yet due to the actions of Sinn Fein and the SDLP, we have wasted about £200million in fines and will continue to waste money until this issue is resolved.
“The very people that the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Green Party claim they are seeking to protect by blocking the welfare legislation are going to be in a worse position. The intransigence of these parties is causing serious trouble for Departments’ budgets which can only get worse while this crisis continues. We can only end this impasse if politicians are willing to act in the interests of the public, rather than their narrow political interests.”