Belfast Telegraph

Pay freeze urged for civil servants

Civil servants earning above £26,000 should have their pay frozen for two years, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.

The UUP released proposals on how to cope with the Westminster cuts that Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has said will take £4 billion out of the Stormont purse over the next four years.

And while the DUP has already proposed a pay freeze for civil servants earning above £21,000, the Ulster Unionists set the bar higher.

The UUP also asked for protection for the health service, which is a ministry held by the party's Michael McGimpsey.

"The Executive faces a significant challenge which will have an unavoidable impact on public services, jobs and our economy," said the UUP.

"However, the manner in which the Executive reacts to the CSR (Comprehensive Spending Review) will determine the level of impact felt by individuals and families across Northern Ireland.

"The Ulster Unionist Party urges a responsible approach that looks to utilise opportunities to deliver services for less, retain jobs and boost the local economy. And we believe that if a corporate, innovative and constructive approach is pursued by all parties in the Executive, the effects of the cuts can be minimised."

It added: "The Ulster Unionist Party believes that the Executive must respond to the Comprehensive Spending Review by firstly agreeing a budget and then progressing three interlinked priorities: setting out its plans for growing a competitive economy, setting out its plans to respond to the cuts and setting out its plans to invest in the future."

The party's proposals include a call for central government to devolve the power to reduce Corporation Tax to the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as a review of bank lending practices and government schemes in Northern Ireland to ensure that businesses are not at a relative disadvantage to their counterparts in Britain.

The Enterprise Department should produce an Export Strategy for Northern Ireland, the party added, and central government should publish its proposals for making Northern Ireland an Enterprise Zone.

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