'Decision Week' For Executive To Agree 2024/25 Budget – UUP

The Ulster Unionist Party has said it is "decision week" for the Executive to agree a new 2024/25 Budget.

Party leader and Upper Bann MLA, Doug Beattie, reiterated his warnings of the damage being inflicted to key services the longer the void in this year's Budget continues.

Mr Beattie said: "The real test of any Government, especially a multi-Party one, is its ability to prepare and agree a budget. Unfortunately, three weeks into a new financial year, there is still as much financial uncertainty now as there was a number of months ago.

"I do not for one moment underestimate the scale of the challenge currently facing the Minister of Finance. Whilst I suspect that she and her officials are working hard to try to find a balanced outcome, ultimately the decision has now moved to the political sphere.

"All Executive Departments have had the opportunity to provide input - now the difficult discussions and decisions must move to the Executive table. I had hoped that a paper could have been discussed last week, but that didn't happen.
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"Any further delay this week would be hugely destabilising. We simply cannot afford a prolonged period of uncertainty or political brinkmanship. Many Executive Departments are effectively running on a bare minimum approach, unable to take critical decisions on what services are either possible or even affordable for this remainder of the year.

"The Ulster Unionist Party is going into the process with our eyes wide open. We understand, as we always have, that there's simply not enough money available to make every investment that every Department wishes.

"Yet equally, we know there is some money, and we need to see that allocated urgently in order to just try to maintain some really important core services.

"The health of our population runs much deeper than a political interest – prior to the most recent restoration of the Executive, all Parties agreed that stabilising our health service and tackling huge issues such as our waiting lists were to be considered the priority.

"I sincerely hope in the days ahead that we see progress. Every day that doesn't, the more damage is being inflicted."

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