07/10/2010

'Rethink Spending Cuts' Says Devolved Leaders

The devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have urged the Westminster Government to rethink its planned spending cuts.

Stormont First Minister, Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have today joined with their counterparts in Scotland and Wales to issue a joint declaration calling on the UK Government to reconsider its approach to the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The local Ministers, along with the Minister for Finance Sammy Wilson, co-signed the declaration, which stated that the three administrations shared a common concern over the consequences to their budgets of cuts, which they described as "too fast and too deep".

The declaration was signed by the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers, Deputy First Ministers and Finance Ministers of the Scottish Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Welsh Assembly Government and said we "wait with considerable apprehension to learn of the consequences for our respective budgets".

The statement continued that: "It is essential that we do not put the recovery at risk. We are concerned however that the UK Government's spending plans may do just that."

The statement underlined that the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that the spending plans outlined in the June Emergency Budget represent the deepest and most sustained cuts to public services since at least the end of the Second World War.

"These cuts are too fast and too deep, consistent with views expressed at the recent Finance Ministers' Quadrilateral," continued the declaration.

"The proposals to cut public spending to such an extent run the risk of stalling any recovery. Private sector demand remains fragile and access to finance continues to be constrained.

"The current plans for fiscal consolidation could therefore have a significant and lasting negative impact on the economy, including people's jobs, which would undermine the very efforts to address the UK's fiscal position. We believe that promoting economic growth is the best way to restore the health of our public finances and this must be our overriding priority."

The joint statement said cuts should be "scaled back and phased in over a longer period".

They urged the UK Government to "share its thinking before the spending review on 20 October so that their budgets could be organised".

Promises?

Meanwhile, the East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton has also said that the swingeing cuts proposed by the Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition government including slashing the capital budget by 50% confirmed the lack of understanding these parties have of NI's unique position.

The DUP Stormont Junior Minister said: "David Cameron singled NI out for special budgetary restrictions prior to the election.

"Secretary of State Owen Patterson in his willingness to tear-up Government agreements is refusing to recognise the full scale of Northern Ireland's fiscal problems."

(BMcC/GK)

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