Newly appointed Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson, Steve Aiken MLA, has urged Sinn Fein to realise that much more is at stake as a result of the developing budgetary crisis than their own belligerent pride.
Steve Aiken said;
“This week the immense ramifications of the DUP and Sinn Fein being unable to produce or agree a budget are beginning to become clear for all to see. Thousands of staff across community groups and the wider voluntary sector are facing great uncertainty and there is an immediate threat to the delivery of key public services. The crisis is now so severe that schools are warning they will not be able to balance their budgets and patients are coming to harm as a result of the spiralling waiting times. There is no public service that will be untouched by the current budgetary impasse.
“Sinn Fein are in the ridiculous and blatantly contradictory situation of claiming that the absence of the budget is having no impact whilst at the same time claiming, as Michelle O’Neill did during the election, that a budgetary allocation is urgently needed to stabilise the situation in the local health service.
“The failure to agree a Budget means a failure to plan or take the decisions that are long overdue. Whilst I note the Secretary of State has said he is minded to bring forward legislation to set a regional rate, which would at least provide the finances to enable local councils to carry out their functions, we should be in no doubt that this may represent a significant hike in local household rates. Sinn Fein are well aware of this, yet no doubt will attempt to plead innocence once these potentially increased bills start coming through letterboxes.
“Not only is the current dereliction of duty by Sinn Fein destabilising public services and contributing to job losses, it will shortly be hitting local people directly in their pockets. Sinn Fein and the DUP had the opportunity to prepare a Budget last December yet they refused. The reality of what happens when Parties are elected who neither know or care how to properly administer public finances is unfortunately once again about to become clear.”