SDLP Stormont Leader Matthew O’Toole has said that families in Northern Ireland cannot be subjected to arbitrary revenue raising measures.
He was speaking after reports that measures under consideration include price increases for school dinners, bus fares, MOTs and street parking, with the cancellation of planned free parking at hospitals.
Mr O’Toole said that the SDLP has brought forward plans to protect public services, while balancing the books at Stormont.
South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:
“The proposals reported today are a continuation of the Secretary of State’s attempt to force the DUP back into Stormont by threatening to heap misery on families that are already under an incredible amount of financial pressure. While I hope and believe that many of the measures suggested will never come to fruition, they will no doubt cause concern in many households who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“We will not correct years of financial mismanagement at Stormont and the legacy of Tory austerity by charging families more for school meals or for transport to get their children to school in the first place. The revenue raising plans brought forward show little cohesion or strategy, with the financial benefit of many of them being negligible, likely making a small impact to the current budget deficit.
“The SDLP understands that we cannot continue on our current financial trajectory, but if we are going to implement revenue raising measures then it must be done in the right way. Our Triple Lock plan would allow us to protect public services, get ourselves back on a sound financial footing, make the most of any investment coming our way, all while ensuring that we don’t end up back in this same position in future. Piecemeal cuts and price increases to vital services is only going to make things more difficult for those that can least afford it.”