So Northern Ireland isn’t to be picked out for drastic cuts after all. On his flying visit the Prime Minister couldn’t have been more reassuring, backed up by his Secretary of State.
He said the assembly could defer cuts to the Northern Ireland budget for a year if it wanted to.
Secretary of State Owen Paterson said it was not sustainable for Northern Ireland to have more than 70% of its gross domestic product spent on public spending.
“What we need to do, and I’ve suggested it will take 25 years to do this, is to steadily rebalance the economy, by bringing up the size of the private sector and steadily bringing down dependence on public spending.
“But we’ve said it’s irresponsible to do nothing. It’s equally irresponsible to do anything too drastic,” he said.
The new government has been reminding itself of the importance of the public sector in preserving living standards. In his indispensable column John Simpson has laid out NI’s poorer performance production relative to UK wide levels.
the official and commercial assessments both point to a regional economy that has moved backwards in the previous two years of the current recession.