SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has described forecasts that the UK economy will fall into recession this year as devastating for working households, first time home buyers and small businesses across Northern Ireland.
The Foyle MP said that an announcement from the Bank of England that interest rates will increase by half a percentage point, the biggest rise for 27 years, will stifle the hopes and ambitions of a new generation of young people who will become locked out of borrowing to buy a home or start a business.
The SDLP Leader has said that radical multilateral intervention is now required to save working families, prevent a 2008-style crunch on household finances and ensure that multinational oil and gas companies are not allowed to make a fortune on the backs of hard working people.
Colum Eastwood MP said:
“Today’s recession forecast and interest rate hike by the Bank of England will cast a familiar sense of dread over people and families who remember the pain of the 2008 global financial crash. The inevitable outcome of these decisions is that people will no longer be able to access finance at rates that meet their immediate needs meaning that starting a family, buying a home or creating a business will be placed out of reach for many.
“The greed-driven economy that has been nurtured by this British Government, and which looks certain to be advanced by the next Prime Minister, has allowed multinational oil and gas companies to make obscene megaprofits on the backs of hard-working people who are being crushed by soaring bills. Those same people will now be forced to endure additional burdens created by an interest rate increase which will devastate people, families and businesses across Northern Ireland.
“First time homebuyers will experience monthly mortgage payments worth 40% of their salary. Small businesses with commercial or personal loans will see repayments increase in line with interest rates. People planning to start a new life for themselves and their families on the other side of the pandemic have had their hopes and ambitions stifled.
“This situation demands a multilateral response from Westminster and devolved government. Working people cannot bear the burden of this emergency while international corporations cash in on misery.
Leader of the Opposition at Stormont, Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“Not only should this afternoon's Bank of England report inject reality into the far-right fantasy Tory leadership, it should end immediately the DUP's government boycott.
“Every day, the strain hard working people are enduring grows and grows. The average family in Northern Ireland now has £93.50 in disposable income per month. Prices at the shop and the pump are going up and up every week. To our people, the recession isn’t around the corner, it’s already here.
“It is genuinely frightening for us to not have devolved Government in these circumstances when people across Northern Ireland will be facing drastic changes to their personal and family finances in the middle of a severe cost of living crisis.”