Cuts may lead to 'deeper recession'
Government cuts will leave Northern Ireland deep in depression, a trade union leader has claimed.
Peter Bunting, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) assistant general secretary, said the massive savings risked plunging the economy deeper into recession.
Chancellor George Osborne signalled a renewed crackdown on the "out of control" welfare budget - announcing further reductions of £4 billion would be made in the spending review this autumn.
The move is on top of an £11 billion reduction made in June's Budget and Mr Osborne said he wanted to tackle those who saw claiming out-of-work benefits as a "lifestyle choice".
Mr Bunting told a meeting in Belfast: "It is grand if the lifestyle choice is in a scenario when there is an alternative for jobs.
"How do you move from welfare to jobs when there are no jobs?
"You can deal with the situation where there is a growth in the economy and the private sector and then you can contemplate dealing with whatever difficulties arise, but it is certainly not considered in the case where we are already in a recession and we are going to deepen into a depression."
The Northern Ireland Executive was told in May it must save an extra £128 million on top of £393 million other savings this year.
The ICTU launched fresh research on the issue, titled Cuts Myths Debunked. It said public spending in the UK was lower than in other parts of Europe.
Public funded business is vital for the construction sector and many other small enterprises.