Farry criticises Budget as ‘short-sighted and irresponsible’

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP has criticised the Budget, saying it is “short-sighted and irresponsible,” as it does not address the economic and social challenges facing the UK, while doing little to help Northern Ireland specifically.

Stephen Farry Budget

The North Down MP said it was more geared towards helping the Conservative Party in the impending General Election.

“This Budget is a populist pre-election Budget, aimed more at trying to rescue the Conservative’s electoral fortunes rather than safeguarding the economic and social welfare of the UK,” he said.

“This should have been a Budget which addressed the cost of living crisis, boosted declining public services, driven upskilling and delivered a Green New Deal.

“The UK economy is hampered by sluggish growth, greatly exacerbated by Brexit and new barriers to market access, relatively low levels of productivity, and poor levels of public and private investment by G7 standards. These problems remain largely unaddressed. Indeed, we have seen gross economic mismanagement in recent years.

“The modest focus on boosting private investment is not matched by public investment, and both are hampered by lack of trust and assurance for investors.

“Cuts to national insurance are superficially welcome, but households will continue to be hit by cost of living challenges, other stealth taxes such as fiscal drag in income tax thresholds, and will suffer as a consequence of the inevitable further deterioration in the quality of public services that will happen to pay for this.

“What happens in terms of UK public spending has massive implications for available resources in Northern Ireland. The current situation is already unacceptably tight due to the underfunding of our region relative to need. Overall, a relatively small Barnett Consequential of £100 million will do very little to help with immediate pressures, especially in what is otherwise a spending crunch in real terms.”