UK Government needs to work with local parties on revised financial package for restored Executive, says Farry

The UK Government needs to work with the local parties on a revised financial package for Northern Ireland, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP has said.

Stephen Farry Budget

The North Down MP was speaking following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. He said the Budget was overall modest, with little additional benefits directly for Northern Ireland. Earlier at Prime Minister’s Questions, Dr Farry asked Rishi Sunak to work with local parties on a package so any restored Executive could work to transform public services and pursue a “prosperity agenda on an invest to save basis”.

“While it is good to see UK economic indicators improving, it must still be recognised this comes on a platform of chaotic financial management, and growth and prosperity will remain stunted due to continued economic barriers with the UK's main trading partner,” he said.

“This is generally a low-key Budget. Some of the individual measures on extended energy support are economic inactivity are welcome, though impact upon Northern Ireland remains uncertain. The investment in childcare is positive, but it should be for the local institutions to shape policy in line with local needs. The changes to pensions allowances are positive in that they should expand the healthcare workforce, and limit the counterproductive early retirement of doctors.

“However overall, there is little investment in skills, the key economic driver, and tackling climate change, in particular via a Green New Deal. There are only some limited Barnett Consequentials for Northern Ireland. This comes in the context of a local financial crisis and the pressing need for a local budget to be set for 2023/24. There will be a temptation to use the Barnett Consequentials to balance the books but this comes at the expense of investments in policy change. 

“Today, I asked Rishi Sunak to work with the local parties on a revised financial package for Northern Ireland. A restored Executive battling a vicious cycle of cuts will not have the capacity to transform public services or pursue a prosperity agenda. Any such package needs to be on an invest to save basis, with conditionality and a focus on key areas such as health, education and skills.  

"I welcome the Prime Minister's assurance the Secretary of State will work with local parties on financial matters. We will continue to pursue the agreement on an actual package.”