Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Wilson warns of spending cuts pain

Sammy Wilson has warned of spending cuts

Executive decisions on how to bear the looming £2 billion spending cuts will be the most difficult in living memory, Sammy Wilson has warned.

The finance minister will use his address at the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to stress that pain is inevitable.

Mr Wilson has been criticised by Sinn Fein for allegedly not doing enough to challenge the anticipated cut to the block grant in the Coalition Government's spending review next month.

But the minister has insisted that there is no sympathy at the Treasury for the argument that Northern Ireland is a special case.

Ahead of the conference in Newcastle, Co Down, he said: "The next four years, and perhaps beyond, are going to be one of the most difficult periods for planning public expenditure in living memory.

"The expenditure cuts we face are a certainty. The continuous growth in public expenditure that we have enjoyed is over; we are in a different world now.

"The magnitude of the expected cuts and the tough choices that have to be made mean we have to plan carefully and do it now.

"Pain is inevitable, but however difficult it is going to be, we have to approach it in a constructive way.

"Wringing our hands or whinging about it won't take us anywhere - we have to get on and deal with it.

"This is what people expect of us; this is what devolution is about. When making these tough decisions, I am firmly of the view that growing our economy must be the number one priority if we are to improve living standards locally. Our future expenditure allocations must reflect this priority."

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