“Frankly I haven’t got to the bottom of this one yet…”

A snowbound Mark Devenport has been pondering the unsurprising economic illiteracy evident in some parties’ responses to the draft Northern Ireland budget distribution…  From the Devenport Diaries

When George Osborne announced his Spending Review in October there was some analysis indicating it equated to 75%/25% ratio between cuts and taxes. We couldn’t get a definite figure from the Stormont Finance department for the ratio in Sammy Wilson’s effort to plug the projected £4 bilion hole in the local budget over the next 4 years.

Sinn Fein has been particularly anxious that the Executive should not be seen as merely passing on Tory/Lib Dem cuts, and in a series of statements Sinn Fein ministers highlighted the additional £1.6 billion which they reckoned has been generated in order to balance the books. On the face of it, as I said on Good Morning Ulster on Wednesday, this would imply £1.6 billion in extra revenue and £2.4 billion in savings, which is a 60%/40% ratio (similar to what Labour’s Alan Johnson has talked about as his preferred option for tackling the UK deficit).

However Finance department officials only specified £840 million in extra revenue in the budget package – around half the Sinn Fein figure – and some of the details for, say, the disposal of assets sounded pretty vague. But if you work on this basis the cuts/tax ratio would be more like 75%/25% or even 80%/20% (which is similar to George Osborne’s ratio).

Read the whole thing.

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  • The Word

    That would suggest that Sinn Fein and the DUP took the Tory line when all was said and done. Why am I not surprised?

  • HeinzGuderian

    I’m still trying to get to the bottom of,how a 15p charge on a plastic bag will stop this horrendous Global Warming ??

  • Tomas Gorman

    How is the 15p charge meant to work? Is it legally enforceable? Where does the 15p tax come into the transaction process?

    This is surely more of an environmental policy rather than a fund raiser.

  • danidiot

    The only thing the 15p will achieve will be to stop me buying a bagfull of items in convenience stores. Great news for the small struggling shop-owner. I’ll buy the 2l of milk, not the bag of sweets, the loaf, the magazine…you know, the stuff you can throw into a plastic bag, the lifeblood of many of these wee shops.
    Well done Sammy.

  • Pete Baker


    Try to focus on the actual topic…

  • joeCanuck

    Is the reason that we’re focussed on the ephemera is that we’ll all pretty much economically illiterate. We can understand tax increases on our wages, cigarettes and beer but the rest is just ???

  • Seamus Clarke


    So basically you’ll not spend a few pounds on bread and sweets in a shop because you, A) Won’t carry them? B) Won’t bring an old bag with you to the shop? or C) Refuse to pay 15p for a bag to carry your items?

    And you accuse Sammy of sucking “the lifeblood of many of these wee shops”?

    In the words of Blindboy Boathouse on Joe Duffy this week, “someone needs to give that man a dictionary and he needs to look up the word irony.”

  • I think I will leave the question of whether it is 75-25 or 60-40 to the professional number crunchers.

    I read in the Sunday Times today (Liam Clarke) that John McAllister is facing a call to be disciplined by the UUP after he made the suggestion that water charges might have to be introduced in Northern Ireland, just like anywhere else

    “You have shot us all in the foot, “yelped Ronnie Crawford, a Lisburn UUP Councillor, who has written to the party leader Tom Elliott to demand action against McAllister”

    From what I hear, the UUP have set up the equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition to deal with anybody who steps out of line or utters political heresy. As he stretches in pain on the rack, McAllister might reflect that his position would have been no worse if he had joined the 2010 group.

    More seriously, McAllister and Sammy Wilson are rare voices of reason at Stormont. Most Stormont politicians continue to believe that the electorate are too stupid to appreciate the mitigating effects of the need to balance the budget.

    United we spend and stand. Divided, we tax, cut and fall.