Ahead of tomorrow’s closing date for the Department of Finance’s Northern Ireland budget outlook consultation, NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes has stated the paper paints a picture of scorched-earth budgetary policy that must be robustly opposed.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “This budget document offers little other than a scorched earth vision of devastating cuts which could essentially destroy our public services, economy and tertiary education system. One wonders whether the sole function of this document was to try and scare parties back in to devolved government here? If so, it appears not to have worked and seems only to have caused significant worry amongst people who depended on public services and on important government schemes. NUS-USI wants devolution up and running again as soon as possible, but we certainly don’t want to see a bonfire of public services to try and force this outcome.
“This document is extremely negative and narrow in its outlook. The paper appears to misses the point, as there little or nothing in the document about tackling the massive cost of a segregated society, which is one of the largest drains on public finances here.
“We need to see imaginative solutions, not cuts to vital services and initiatives that are crucial to the public, to educational opportunities and to the economy. Creating an increased regional rates system based upon ability to pay would be an imaginative solution that could prevent these cuts.
“Given the significant economic challenges that Brexit and global economic instability could leave at our doorstep, it is extremely important that we invest in people here. We must invest to create a society that we believe can attract business and jobs, rather than making damaging budget cuts which will ruthlessly target students and the most vulnerable people in our society.”