Three-year Budget would give certainty for public services, says Muir

A three-year Budget for Northern Ireland would give certainty for delivery of public services, allowing planning and rebuilding to take place, Alliance Finance spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said.

Mr Muir was speaking as the second stage of the Budget Bill took place in the Assembly today (Wednesday), which gives government Departments just 45 per cent of the previous year’s spend to cover expenditure in the next few months of the future financial year.

He said recent examples of pressures on the health service were evidence of the need for restoration for the Executive to enable agreement to be reached on a three-year Budget.

“Some have claimed we cannot agree a Budget because we are so close to the end of the Assembly mandate. That is simply not true and has been done previously by former DUP Finance Ministers in the face of imminent elections,” he said.

“What is now required is the certainty a three-year Budget can bring. It would allow us to plan the transformation process properly, which will alleviate some of the pressures the health service is currently experiencing, while bringing a more strategic and cross-Departmental partnerships.

“We have the opportunity for the first multi-year Budget for Northern Ireland for more than a decade. But investment must take place across all Departments to safeguard key public services, keep people safe and tackle both the causes and symptoms of ill health.

“To deliver that, we need an operational Executive, able to agree the Budget instead of running our government on a wing and a prayer, just barely keeping things on the road, as is currently happening.”