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Overend responds to Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review

 

The Ulster Unionist Party’s economic spokesperson Sandra Overend MLA has responded to the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review plans which he outlined at Westminster today.

 Mrs Overend said,

"The Chancellor George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review plans for 2015/16 confirmed that Northern Ireland will receive £9.6bn. The plans, taken in conjunction with the announcements earlier this month of an economic package with London, mean that the Assembly has done as well as could reasonably have been expected.

 Some Whitehall Departments have incurred cuts of 10%, so the devolved regions have escaped the worst of what could have happened at 2%. The exception is the Northern Ireland Office itself, which along with the Scotland and Wales Offices have had their budgets cut by 10%.

 The issue of changes to benefits and access to benefits will obviously have an impact on Northern Ireland as will the changes to automatic pay upgrades for those working in the public sector including civil servants, teachers etc.

 What is clear however, even if you listen to the Labour party, there is going to be no going back to the days of regular and significant increases in public resource spending, outside capital spending. The reality is that Stormont faces long term, if gradual, reductions in public spending which won't change with the election of a Labour government.

 There is welcome news that there will be an additional £100 million of capital borrowing capability for the Northern Ireland Executive over two years in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and this is expected to help fund shared future projects in housing and education.”

 I obviously welcome the news that there will be an additional £31m of funding for the PSNI, primarily to tackle the on-going republican terrorist threat.  I cannot help but wish that Northern Ireland was in a better situation so that this money could be put to other uses, in terms of hospitals, schools and job creation.

 We must all work to minimise the effects of the on-going recession and ensure we are well-placed to take advantage when the recovery finally comes.”

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