The cuts are coming – and Stormont’s response?

So the battle of the cuts has begun. What will be the ailing local regime’s response to Alistair Darling’s freeze on senior civil service pay? While the freeze presumably applies to the NIO, what will be the impact on the separate NICS, for whom you’ll already have to pay an extra £100m next year because of the little matter of the staggering failure to apply equal pay rules?. I expect Stormont will be caught in the headlights. But welfare and pensions are not devolved, so what a Cameron government finally pronounces would apply to NI. The pension plan makes a kind of long term sense, but its rickety nature was exposed in the Conservative leader’s stumbling responses in the Today programme. (8.10 slot).

But analysts immediately spotted a problem. The government is raising the pension age for women, to bring it up to the pension age for men, but this process will not be complete until 2020. Initially, it seemed that the Tory plan could result in the pension age for women rising from 63 to 66 in a single year.

Standby for Labour accusations that the plan would hit the poorest worst, even though Labour would follow a similar course. BTW it would be great if the new editor of the Bel Tel required his staff to version UK national stories like the public sector pay freeze for NI promptly, rather than running straight lifts from the PA or the Indy. From BBC NI, nada on all this on the website so far.
Adds George Osborne trumps Labour’s pay freeze for 40,000 senior public servants with a freeze of all public sector pay for those earning over 18K. And they’re rushing to try to clear up confusion over women pensions by saying women’s pensionable age will increase to equal men’s some time between 2020 and 2026. Men’s pensionable age would go up a year to 66 in 2016. Quite a gamble with women’s pensionable age going up a whopping six years, with women of aged 49 and under the first to be hit. Pay for the armed forces wouldn’t be part of either party’s cuts.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London