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Budget not even close to what is required, says Muir

Alliance Finance and Infrastructure spokesperson, Andrew Muir MLA, has raised concerns regarding the draft budget for Northern Ireland presented today in the Assembly.

The 2021/22 budget announcement was expected weeks ago, but was only agreed by the Executive Committee this morning. The draft budget proposes flat allocations for the Northern Ireland departments for the forthcoming financial year, and does not include any details on commitments made under previous agreements such as New Decade New Approach.

Speaking following the announcement, Mr Muir said “At a time when Northern Ireland is struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, this budget is not even close to what is required”.

“Not only has the Conservative government in Westminster failed to properly fund their commitments under NDNA, but they are not providing anywhere near enough funding for Northern Ireland to start to tackle endemic problems such as waiting lists, education and reviving our economy post-COVID-19. Northern Ireland also needs the ability to borrow to support day to day spending, and to be able to carry-over this year’s COVID funding to the early months of next year.”

“I have called on the Finance Minister to provide local businesses with rates relief for 2021/22. Northern Ireland’s economy desperately needs support in order to enable a green recovery post-COVID. The Executive must also bring forward serious programmes for reform, because it is clear that an unwillingness to deal with underlying issues with delivering public services is increasingly unaffordable. As part of that process, the Finance Minister must also bring forward the promised Fiscal Council at the earliest opportunity.”