Commitment to public services underpins budget – McKay
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Daithí McKay said today’s budget had demonstrated once again his party’s continued commitment to frontline public services.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“The Executive’s budget has been under fierce pressure from year-on-year British government cuts to the block grant and the Tory assault on the welfare state.
“Despite this Sinn Féin has continued to support the provision of frontline public services while protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
“We have agreed a welfare protection package for the most vulnerable people in our society to ensure there is no reduction in benefits within the control of the Assembly.
"These protections are unique to the north of Ireland and are in sharp contrast to the austerity-driven welfare system being rolled out in Britain.
“I welcome the more than £200 million extra which is being invested in the health service and almost £100m extra announced for education and higher education than what was originally in the draft budget.
“There were also lifts for a number of other departments with £20m for justice.
“Despite the Tory austerity cuts agenda Sinn Féin has continued to support public services and there are no compulsory redundancies in either the Stormont House Agreement or the subsequent budget announcement.
“While the Agreement provides for a fund of up to £700 million over four years for workers choosing to retire or leave the public service, this scheme will be demand driven and dependent on uptake by workers.
“Public sector workers will clearly have the option if they wish to take part in it and it is completely at their discretion. Sinn Féin is opposed to compulsory redundancies.
“Sinn Féin will also ensure that the design and operation of any such scheme will not adversely impact on frontline services.”