Budget lacklustre and unimaginative
Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Daithí McKay has described the British budget as lacklustre and unimaginative.
Mr McKay said:
“This lacklustre and unimaginative budget put forward by the Westminster Government will do nothing to stimulate growth and get people back to work.
“It proposes further cuts in public spending with little or no emphasis on stimulating economic growth beyond the reduction of corporation tax, a move which Sinn Féin was to the fore in advocating in order to facilitate economic growth by creating a level playing with the rest of the island. It is a budget which promises more austerity and little hope.
“Unemployment is at its worst level for fifteen years. The Economy continues to decline. This is Tory Policy destroying the economy.
“The British Chancellor has brought forward a budget that promises a further 1% reduction in resources across Departments reducing the amount of money available for public expenditure. He has indicated that the budgets of devolved administrations are to be adjusted - Tory adjustments means cuts. Osborne offers little clarity as to the extent the budgets of devolved administrations will be reduced.
"The outworking of this budget will not become apparent until the Spending Round in June when as the Chancellor stated that, “Local government and devolved administration budgets will be adjusted accordingly”.
“This proposed adjustment could see the amount of money allocated in the Block Grant cut. Even Sammy Wilson has been unable to give any indication as to the effect that further adjustments/cuts will have on our spending ability.
“If the 1% Departmental reduction is applied here it could mean an overall reduction in cross departmental resources of the magnitude of £80 million per year.
“He is also introducing a cap on Annually Managed Expenditure which is likely to mean a cap on the north’s social welfare budget. This could signal further pain for the most vulnerable but again we must wait until the spending round in June to see what the full impact of the proposed cap will be.
“This is particularly concerning in the context of the current debate on welfare reform in the north and the agreement by all parties here for the need for local flexibility. “Any overall cap or reduction in the welfare budget from Westminster could place extra financial pressure on the Executive's spending ability. Sammy Wilson must be vigilant to ensure that the worst effects of this budget are mitigated. He should initiate negotiations now with the British Government to ensure that the north is not worse off as a result of these proposals.
“This budget has strengthened Sinn Fein's resolve to have maximum fiscal powers transferred to the north. The economy in the north cannot reach its full potential while it continues to be financed as one giant Whitehall Department. Osborne’s budget is a recipe for further reductions in public expenditure for the north at a level which will remain unclear until June. We need the tools to grow the economy, stimulate growth and create jobs. This budget does not do it.
“We therefore remain in limbo until June, when the Tories will decide how our budget will be adjusted. In the meantime Tory spin tells us that they have given us £94 million for capital expenditure which is to be welcomed if it materialises, but is unlikely to offset the expected reduction in resources that will be announced in June. What the British government is doing is giving with one hand to take it away with the other. CRÍOCH