Belfast Telegraph

Minister wants fair budget cuts

Northern Ireland should not be hit by unfair budget cuts, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has told the Treasury chief Danny Alexander.

The DUP minister met Mr Alexander and the Scottish and Welsh finance ministers in London for talks on attempts to tackle the economic crisis.

Mr Wilson's discussions on the UK Spending Review, the economy and welfare reform came amid claims from Sinn Fein that his party was not doing enough to fight-off central government cuts.

But the Finance Minister said the meeting was one of a series of engagements with the Treasury in the run up to the Spending Review announcement on October 20.

"This was a constructive meeting which allowed me to raise some highly important financial issues with the Chief Secretary," the minister said.

"I was able to highlight to the Chief Secretary the crucial importance of early engagement on the outcome of the 2010 UK Spending Review.

"I also emphasised the particularly severe impact that any spending cuts could have on the local economy, given our heavy public sector reliance."

The minister added: "As we near the outcome of the National Spending Review, I am continuing to make robust representations on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive on these important financial issues.

"No-one can be under any illusion about the difficult choices we will face and it is essential that we start to plan for the challenging times that lie ahead.

"My top priority in this process is that Northern Ireland is not unfairly treated as we face inevitable budgetary reductions imposed by Westminster."

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