Ulster Unionist MP, Tom Elliott has said that upcoming spending decisions make establishing a Northern Ireland Executive ‘vital’.
Mr Elliott commented on the budget outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP in the House of Commons earlier today.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MP said:
“I welcome the decision by the Chancellor to move the date of the next budget to the Autumn, which gives individuals and businesses adequate time to plan for the start of the new financial year.
“It is worth reflecting that this is the second financial statement by the Chancellor in a matter of months, while in Northern Ireland we still have not agreed a budget for the next financial year, which is only 3 weeks away. This creates a great deal of uncertainty for ordinary people, and is an indictment of the failure of the last Executive.
“While I appreciate that the Chancellor has tough choices to make, particularly as we prepare to leave the European Union, in today’s budget it was disappointing to hear that National Insurance for self-employed people will rise from 9 to 11 percent by April 2019, which will add an additional burden on hard working families.
“More welcome is increasing investment in education, social care, and introducing plans for business rate relief. It was also encouraging to hear that some of the funding originally announced in Autumn Statement will be spent, including £200 million for fibre broadband. Investment in broadband infrastructure is a pressing issue, as only 52 percent of premises in rural parts of Northern Ireland have access to superfast broadband, leaving them significantly disadvantaged compared to those in urban areas.
“Additional spending announced in the budget today will mean almost an extra £120 million for the Northern Ireland block grant if an Executive is established out of the current political crisis.
“Such upcoming spending decisions mean it is vital that a working Northern Ireland Executive gets up and running, to make crucial decisions on the delivery of public services.”