SDLP Stormont Leader Matthew O’Toole has said the party’s financial Triple Lock proposal could protect public services from being decimated.
He was speaking after the forecast by the Northern Ireland Fiscal Council (NIFC) that £800m will need to be found through cuts and revenue raising following last week’s budget.
South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:
“This stark warning from the NIFC would spell disaster for our public services, many of which are already at the point of collapse due to years of mismanagement and Tory austerity. Gutting the likes of our health service and education system is not the way to respond to this crisis, the SDLP has brought forward a constructive proposal that would not only protect our public services, but take the steps necessary to return our institutions to a sound financial footing.
“The SDLP’s Triple Lock plan not only recognises the need to oppose harsh cuts that will devastate communities here, but also identifies the important role that NIFC has to play in putting this situation right, granting them powers enshrined in legislation to report on Executive performance and to compel any new Executive to respond to their findings with an action plan to address concerns.
“We recognise the perilous financial situation we are in, but it will take more than blanket cuts and short-sighted revenue raising to reverse this situation. Our proposal recognises the need to take responsibility for our finances, but it cannot be done without the devolved institutions in place, a proper plan of financial assistance to allow us to implement the necessary reform and greater powers to control our own destiny when it comes to public finances.
“If the British government and parties get behind this plan we have an opportunity to address the long-term underperformance at Stormont that has failed to deliver for people here. The DUP need to face reality and end their boycott now, not after another few months of intransigence. Every day the situation is worsening, our finances are at the mercy of the Tories, civil servants are being placed in an impossible position and everyone is suffering as result.”