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Farry: Spending Review must help to build back better

North Down Alliance MP, Stephen Farry, has stressed the importance of strategically investing additional spend in the necessary transformation of society and the economy, after the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many structural weaknesses.

Mr Farry was speaking after the Spending Review statement from the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday.
Stephen Farry said: “The Covid pandemic has exposed structural weaknesses in our economy and society. It will also accelerate changes in how people live, work and interact.

“Public spending assumptions should not be based on a return to the status quo ante, but should instead help accelerate transformation through a stronger emphasis on social justice and inclusion, reskilling and investment in the Green New Deal and combatting climate change. Facilitating economic growth is critical to providing the resources for change, but in turn those reforms are vital to underpinning and sustaining that growth.

“The additional spending across the UK is welcome and appropriate, as will be the £0/9bn Barnett Consequential to the Northern Ireland Executive. However, such spending does need to be strategic.

“Northern Ireland has relied heavily on EU Structural Funds to help with skills, inclusion and investment. Those funds were allocated across the UK based on need rather than the Barnett Formula. There are major concerns and uncertainty as to how the new Shared Prosperity Fund will be allocated, and I am pursuing answers in that regard.

“The cut to the international aid budget is appalling and counter-productive. With Covid and climate change being global challenges, overseas assistance is more important than ever. Cutting such aid will leave many people around the world in a more precarious situation and undermines the UK’s so-called ‘Global Britain’ brand and its credibility ahead of the COP26 event next November.”