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Budget not grounded in reality and had little for Northern Ireland, says Farry

The Chancellor’s Budget is not grounded in reality and had little to address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.

Dr Farry was speaking after Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented the Budget to the House of Commons. The North Down MP said it was lacking in a number of areas.

“Overall this is a populist budget, and not one grounded in reality. It is of course right and necessary the Government uses its fiscal tools to help manage the health, social and economic consequences of managing coronavirus,” he said.

“The looming economic shock masks the even deeper financial and other consequences flowing from Brexit, which will slow economic growth and pass on needless extra costs and red tape to business.

“Notably, despite the lofty rhetoric, the Budget is contrary to the requirements to address the climate emergency. And the new commitment around welfare and health spending entirely belie the impact of austerity cuts over past decade.

“There is little to address the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, with nothing on air passenger duty in response our connectivity challenge. There was nothing to assist local companies to prepare for compliance with the Northern Ireland Protocol, and most disappointingly, there is only £210 million of new Barnett consequentials for the Executive.

“Alliance is a champion for strong public finances. We want to see reforms to our public services and investments in the key economic drivers, such as skills and research. But Northern Ireland needs the sound platform on which to change direction.

“Major challenges now lie ahead for the devolved institutions. But there are rightly expectations from the local business community and other stakeholders new resources arising from business rate changes in England will now be used to similar effect in Northern Ireland and extra health spending will be invested in combatting coronavirus.”