Stephen Farry stated: “Alliance has been much more upfront on the reality that the Executive and Assembly must raise additional revenue if we are to meet the current financial challenge in a fair and effective manner.
“No other mainstream government in the world would seek to close the looming budget gap we are facing through spending cuts alone. The current right of centre UK Government is not seeking to do so and is deploying a 77:23 split between cuts and additional revenue.
“Priority must be given to protecting frontline public services and also the drivers of economic change. It is the poor and most vulnerable in this society whom are most dependent upon quality public services, and who will suffer if cuts are even more acute than necessary. The raising of additional revenue must be part of any social justice agenda.
“The issue then becomes one of fairness. This must be linked to ability to pay. Here a major distinction can be drawn between water charges which levied relative to income and which are already the norm for households elsewhere in the UK, and other proposals such as a flat rate charge to visit a doctor. The latter would tend not to reflect ability to pay, and more fundamentally would challenge the longstanding principle of a National Health Service free at the point of entry.
“The Executive must face up to the need to raise revenue, but must also be smart and progressive in the manner in which seeks to do so.”