Ford: People give more consideration to their family’s Christmas budget than the Executive gave to Northern Ireland’s budget

As Arlene Foster prepares to leave the Department of Finance, Alliance had a little parting gift for her on the day she becomes DUP.

Following a meeting of the Executive, party leader, David Ford announced that both Stephen Farry and himself, voted against the budget before the Executive.

Speaking after the meeting he said;

Alliance Ministers approached the budget in terms of how it serves Northern Ireland, not their own departments.  We have argued year after year for a strategic approach to budgeting, but year after year DUP and Sinn Fein Ministers cobble together a deal just to get their departments through the next 12 months.

This budget is bereft of strategic planning.  Areas of waste and duplication remain unaddressed.  Reforms of key services such as health and education have yet to be considered.  Opportunities for even modest, progressive forms of revenue raising remain ignored, leaving us yet again relying on cuts to public services to balance our budget.  To compound this, the DUP and Sinn Fein retain funds for them to spend on pet projects at a time when there is a clear need for spending in strategic areas.

Perhaps most alarming, the budget includes no supporting investments in preparation for the planned reduction in corporation tax – another critical opportunity missed to plan properly for what is the biggest financial decision an Executive will ever take.  At a time when we should be investing in skills, and before last year’s cuts have even taken full effect, the skills budget is being cut still further.

At today’s meeting, Alliance Ministers’ efforts to generate a discussion around the budget were rebuffed.  Alliance Ministers proposed that the decision on the budget be deferred until next week to allow Ministers to consider the implications of the proposals put before them. While we accept that the timetable for producing today’s budget was tight, there was no justification for rushing the budget within hours. There has been no proper engagement with key stakeholders. Yet again this makes a mockery of the approach that the DUP and Sinn Fein committed to in the so-called ‘Fresh Start’.

People give more consideration to their family’s Christmas budget than the Executive gave to Northern Ireland’s budget for next year.

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  • murdockp

    I made this very point to a SF minister earlier today. Senior SF representatives were on the front a a local paper rightly condemning the poor quality of social housing that people are expected to live in, whilst at the same time their colleagues are celebrating the construction of a GAA stadium that will be used to capacity four times a year that will cost the taxpayer the same as 1,000 houses would have costs.

    So in conclusion you might live in a damp house all year round, but a least you know if you go to see the Ulster Final at Casement Park you will be dry under the expensive roof.

  • CB Belfast

    The past month should have been a period of intense discussion on how we move forward with an innovative budget that recognises the increasingly constrained environment we are operating within, the need to think differently about revenue generation and the challenges that a revised corporation tax environment is likely to present.

    Instead it has been spent finalising a 72-page waste of time and resolving internal party politics, particularly in the DUP.

    This has obviously been rushed through at the last minute and done in a manner so as to stymie proper debate and discussion.

  • chrisjones2

    …even if you are unsure if you will be safe! And the same goes for Windsor. All for vanity projects.

    Perhaps those waiting on trolleys at the RVH and Mater could be wheeled across to see matches at Casement and Windsor. Sure they will be waiting so long there will be time to take in the match and be back before a nurse is available to check they still alive.

    Oh damn though – the problem might be finding an ambulance to move them!!

  • Korhomme

    I suspect that problems like this go to the heart of “power sharing”. I suspect that it was expected that “power sharing” carried the implicit message of “coalition”, of joint working, of working together to reach a common viewpoint between all the parties.

    And yet the reality seems to be that each party, or each of the major players, works to the advantage of itself, or of its own members. Each party in government seems to have its own agenda; the idea of working together is a fantasy.

  • Gopher

    There is a simple solution, resign go into opposition and fight the 2016 election on *your budget*. If you dont please stop whinning and dont be asking me for your vote as you are completely ineffectual.

  • Thomas Barber

    At the very least they could come up with some sort of legislation that would force private landlords to ensure their dwellings were fit for human habitation before the DHSS agreed to pay rent towards. The state of some of the houses I’ve seen being advertised for rent is not only frightening and depressing but its becoming the norm.

  • Granni Trixie

    Agree – the public certainly expected cooperation/power sharing to be to the advantage of all the people of NI not “cooperation” in order to dole out resources to each side. PS has been worked to a sectarian agenda so same old kind of leadership,vision and planning as before.

  • Korhomme

    If you look at the old Stormont, you can see that it was for the benefit of the ‘unionist’ community; except it really wasn’t. It was for the benefit of the 1% unionists; the majority; what were once called the ‘working class’ were just as abused and as badly treated as their counterparts on the nationalist side – the difference being that the unionists thought that the nationalists were being kept in their place, and were happy with that; and the nationalists knew that they were underdogs and were unhappy. In reality, both were underdogs; today, the unionists don’t or can’t realise this.

    And as you say, power sharing is just the “same old kind of leadership and vision”. But there is no real vision for a community of all the parties, of all peoples; it’s still the same old sectarian divisions.

  • Croiteir

    This is the sort of statement that I despise. Mr Ford is a minister. He shares power and accepts its policies. Yet he doesn’t. He is having his cake and eating it. I really do not understand why he doesn’t resign from his 86,000 ministerial post. Can you?

  • NMS

    This is not a specifically, UKNI issue, Dr. Paul Rouse contributed an article pointing out the same issue about the surfeit of grounds in Ireland.

    His arguments were developed further in today’s paper by Brendan O’Brien Too many grounds with not enough going on in them, surely time to call a halt?