Strategic approach required to budget spending, says Farry

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has warned real impacts on public services and the economy will be felt after budget allocations were set out by the Secretary of State.

Dr Farry added there was an urgent need for strategic policy-making to ensure scarce resources are spent more effectively after the written statement from Karen Bradley.

“We accept the inevitability of the Secretary of State making a statement in relation to budget allocations for the forthcoming financial year. Departments, agencies and the community and voluntary sector require certainty regarding funding. Delays limit the efficiency and effectiveness of spending, which is particularly problematic in the context of an ever tightening public expenditure situation,” he said.

“This is at best a caretaker approach and Northern Ireland is undoubtedly suffering from the absence of political agreement and clear leadership.

“While additional funding has been found to somewhat reduce the impact of cuts on a large number of Government Departments, the figures remain heavily skewed through the constant short-termist need to prop up health and education.

“There should be no doubt there will be pain involved in this budget and significant implications for the nature of public services and investment in key economic drivers. Even a standstill situation isn’t good enough as in more and more respects Northern Ireland is falling behind what is happening in other jurisdictions and much needed reforms are stacking up.

“All this budget statement does is to allocate money to the various Departments and related bodies. In the absence of Ministers, it falls to civil servants to make the internal decisions on how money will be spent. Northern Ireland cannot afford to tread water for a further financial year.

“We cannot be back in the same place next year with resources having to be skewed to manage unsustainable service delivery patterns in health and education. Scarce resources now must be spent strategically in a manner delivering reform and progressive change in our society.”

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