Eastwood: There must be a return to devolution to deliver enhanced budget
“All additional money is welcome to address the pressures facing our public services. In particular, the news that additional money will be spent in Health and Education, something the SDLP has campaigned for, is good news.
“However, in addition to reallocations by the Department of Finance, money is being allocated directly by the Treasury. This money comes directly from the DUP confidence and supply agreement. That is British Direct Rule.
“The SDLP is firm that there can be no return to British Direct Rule and there must be a return to devolution.
“A key reason why we must have devolution is that some of this money cannot be spent without a Minister. In particular, at long last today’s update shows that the money is now available for a pay increase for frontline staff in the health service but that pay rise comes at a price. That price is political agreement as our understanding is that without a Minister staff will not receive their long deserved pay rise.
“Sinn Fein may argue there’s no basis for a return to talks but surely giving doctors and nurses a pay rise is one of the key reasons to return to talking and deliver a government here.
“While the DUP will no doubt give themselves a pat on the back for squeezing £20million out for this year of their so-called deal of £1 billion with the Tories, they should know that it’s not good enough having money resting in an account, it needs spent. And we need a government here to spent it.”