Budget creates genuine opportunities for growth - Ó Muilleoir
Sinn Féin MLA Mairtín Ó Muilleoir has said the 2015/16 budget protects the most vulnerable in society and creates genuine opportunities for economic growth.
Speaking during the debate on the budget in the Assembly, the South Belfast MLA said;
“It's clear from this budget that caring for our people, especially those on the margins, while building community, easing the burden on working families, creating jobs and turbocharging our economy are priorities for us.
“Sticking to those priorities in the face of slash-and-burn policies from the Tory-led coalition has been some feat.
"As Pope Francis has said; 'How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"
"As someone who has had the great joy of being welcomed into homeless shelters and food banks across this great city, I want to say that it's news to me and to Sinn Féin when the vulnerable suffer.
“London has decimated budgets here since 2011, removing £1.5bn from the block grant.
“Despite that assault on our people, this budget has managed to put an additional £204m into frontline health services.
“We also agreed to provide a package over six years of £565m to mitigate against the potential loss of benefits to individuals and families.
“We have retained a series of anti-poverty measures and set up a Supplementary Payment Fund to provide protection specifically to families with children, people with disabilities, and those who are long-term sick.
“This budget gives the Education Minister a £63m uplift while in DEL, the draft budget was revised to give Minister Farry an additional £33m.
"We will ensure therefore that in our attempts to rebalance the economy, voluntary redundancy schemes across government should not diminish or damage vital public services and that no one should be made compulsorily redundant.
"I would ask small business owners and leaders to take confidence from this bold budget by stepping up to the plate once more.
"Now that the economy is in recovery, because of the policies of this executive, it's time to dust down that business plan which has been lying on the office shelf for some years."