Budget Lacks Any Plans Or Priorities For Meaningful Change – SDLP

The Executive budget lacks any plans or priorities for meaningful change, SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O'Toole MLA has said.

Speaking during a debate on the budget in the Assembly on Tuesday, Mr O'Toole, who also serves as Chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee, said: "While it's welcome that we have finally have a budget after a number of years the public will rightly be asking what this will do to save our collapsing public services or improve their quality of life and the answer to that unfortunately is very little.
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"Nobody expected miracles but they did expect a plan and a clear set of priorities of how the Executive intended to right our financial situation. Following the last Assembly election Executive parties had been meeting for 18 months and still we have no programme for government or clarity around key infrastructure projects like Casement Park or new builds for integrated schools after they approved the removal of £150m funding.

"There is no excuse for this budget not being more strategic or failing to map a better way forward. The Finance Minister today made multiple references to the need for tough decisions and to address the challenges ahead, but there is no evidence of that in the budget itself.

"Despite denials we have also seen the Executive commit to exploring revenue raising in their new fiscal framework with the UK Government. In the event that we have a new government in the coming weeks the Minister needs to be beating their door down for a Spending Review and bringing forward proposals around how we can use any additional funding to revive our public services and actually address the issues impacting families across the North."

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