Sinn Féin Deputy Chair of Enterprise Committee, Phil Flanagan MLA has welcomed the report published by Oxfam on the devastating effect Austerity policies are having on the most vulnerable sections of society.
Mr Flanagan said:
“I welcome this in depth report produced by Oxfam which reflects many of the issues highlighted on a regular basis by Sinn Féin spokespersons. It would seem that the British and Irish governments are isolated in the belief that austerity measures, mainly directed towards the unemployed and working poor, can lift the economy and society out of the mess created by wealthy bankers, speculators and developers.
“It is an undeniable fact that every cut to benefits or wage levels has a multiplying effect on the loss to the economy as those in receipt of benefits and low wages spend 100% of disposal income locally. Therefore cuts to benefits and infrastructural investment are also a threat to existing jobs and expansion potential.
“But while we can complain and Oxfam and other reputable organisations can produce reports calling on the British government to treat this place as a special case, we will continue to suffer economically while tied to British fiscal policy.
“The only way that we will ever be treated as a special case is when we take responsibility for our own economic destiny by demanding transfer of maximum tax and revenue raising powers from Whitehall to the Assembly Executive.
“We need to reassess the fiscal link between the north and Britain. It is time that the Assembly and Executive had access to the full suite of fiscal powers in order to build a just, fair, equitable and successful economy in the north and to build a better Ireland.
"The British economy is the most unequal in Europe with households in the north having an average £100 a week less disposable income that those in Britain. British fiscal policies will always be tailored to bolster the London Financial markets and any peripheral benefits to the unemployed or working poor are more by accident than design. And experience has exposed the fallacy that the North of Ireland benefits from economic union with Britain.
“There are alternatives to austerity. But the only way to secure a new economic and social model that invests in people and pursues fair taxation is to secure the necessary powers to do so.
“We need a proper discussion on the democratic reform of the northern economy and the economy of this island. We cannot continue to allow a Government and a Tory party which was rejected at the ballot box here continue to dictate our economic future.”