Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Molloy - Pearson wrong to reject criticism of Block grant formula

16 January, 2004


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has said that Ian Pearson is wrong to reject criticism of the Barnett formula that is used to calculate our Budget allocation from the British Treasury and question whether his judgement is based on what the British Treasury want or what people here need.

Cllr Molloy, former chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee, said:

"Ian Pearson is wrong to reject criticism of the Barnett formula, especially when the man who devised the formula has himself rejected it as a fair basis for allocating our Budget because it is only a head count that takes no account of the levels of need that exists here, our age profile or the rural nature of the Six Counties.

"Our elderly population is increasing at a faster rate than in Britain, we have a younger population and our birth rate is higher. This means that we have significantly higher health and social care costs. We also have greater relative deprivation and associated higher levels of illness and early death. We also have a much lower proportion of people in employment compared to England and a much higher level of benefit dependency.

"For Ian Pearson to refuse to publish the Needs and Effectiveness evaluations that were carried out for the locally accountable Executive as flawed is a disgrace. These studies were initiated as part of a campaign initiated by Sinn Féin Ministers in the Executive who also secured the Programme for Government commitment to challenge the Barnett formula.

"Is Ian Pearson now going to live up to those Programme for government commitments and challenge the unfair Barnett formula? Is he going to recognise the priorities already identified by putting more resources particularly into the provision of health services.

"Despite his assertion that he will not publish the Needs and Effectiveness Evaluations because they are flawed, there is obviously a communication breakdown between Ian Pearson and his direct rule colleague running the Health department because the Health study has been available on the Health website since December 2nd.

"Ian Pearson refusal to publish these studies and refusal to challenge the Barnett formula that means we are worse off and have less money for our services is a matter of deep concern. Is Ian Pearson's judgement based on what is best for his political masters in Downing Street and the British Treasury or is it based on what is best for people who live here all year round."ENDS

Note to Editors

1. By 2010 the population aged 65 and over here is expected to increase by 15% compared to 8% in England and 7% in Scotland. Growth in the most needy population aged 85 and over is even greater, by 2025 this group is expected have increased by 72% here compared to 47% in England.

2. 30% of our population is 20 or under compared with 25% in England. The birth rate is still 11% higher than England, although the gap is narrowing.

3. The Standardised mortality Ratio for persons under 75, as a measure of early death, is 7% higher here than in England.

4. In deprivation terms we have a far lower proportion of people in employment - 66% here compared to 76% in England. The level of income support benefit recipients is 68% higher here than in England and the proportion of lone parent families is 38% higher here than in England.

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