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Assembly set to debate Ulster Unionist call for new Budget

The Ulster Unionist Party is to lead a debate in the Assembly on Monday afternoon calling for a new budget, accompanied by a revised set of Executive targets, which takes account of Northern Ireland's new financial environment. 

Ulster Unionist Party Leader Mike Nesbitt said; 

“The Assembly has never faced such a serious financial watershed. The current 2011-2015 budget has been found to be unworkable; it is now so fragmented that even the regular monitoring round process can no longer prop it up.    

“The deal in June has had a detrimental impact across a range of Departments and given the seemingly unlikely event of a positive deal in the October round the situation is only going to get worse.  

“Everyone has heard the warnings from Edwin Poots; in order to prevent the biggest funding crisis the NHS has ever seen in Northern Ireland, as well as the accompanying deterioration in standards of care, it is vital that the budgetary shortfall is resolved.  

“It is because of the current impasse that we believe the Assembly needs to take a brave decision. We need a new budget, not least for 2015-16 which at the moment is literally a blank sheet. Continually moving money from one Department to another to fill gaps is no way to run a Government. The Executive needs to have the difficult discussions as to what exactly its priorities are and fund them in that order.  

“Although we warned in 2011 that the four year Budget would not and could not work, we are determined to play a constructive role in the development of a rational financial settlement which will see the Assembly through to end of its current mandate in 2016.  

“Obviously a revised budget would need to be accompanied by a revised set of targets and that is why we are also calling for the Programme for Government to be revisited. Too many of the old targets have been missed, altered or just forgotten about. In order for any Administration to be judged it must be measured against its most recent targets.”  

Wording of Ulster Unionist Motion being debated on 22 September: 

That this Assembly recognises that the 2011-2015 Budget Settlement is unravelling; expresses concern about the impact that the current funding crisis may have on the sick and the vulnerable across Northern Ireland and how this will be further compounded if penalties are passed down from Westminster; accepts that on-going implementation of the current four year Budget is now untenable; and calls on the Executive to bring forward a new Budget, accompanied by a revised Programme for Government which takes account of the new financial environment.

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