Belfast Telegraph

SDLP in warning over budget plans

Stormont politicians should avoid a stop-gap one-year budget, the SDLP has warned.

The party unveiled a blueprint it said could more than meet the £4 billion cuts ordered by the Chancellor.

But as budget talks continue at Stormont, the SDLP warned Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness against postponing the economic pain until after next May's Assembly election.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said: "Our proposals narrow the budget shortfall and give us additional resources we can spend on priority areas.

"It is vital to secure a four-year budget but progress towards a long-term budget has been slow."

Ms Ritchie called for a "social compact" between government, business, trade unions and the community and voluntary sector in support of a new budget plan.

She rejected claims her party's plan was arriving too late to influence the ongoing budget talks, and said the SDLP needed to carry out a detailed analysis of the Spending Review unveiled by the Chancellor six weeks ago before compiling its proposals.

The party's document of nearly 70 pages was, said the SDLP, a fully-costed and detailed plan.

It promised £1.5 billion in efficiency savings, £0.4 billion in spending reductions, £0.5 billion in new revenue and £2 billion in capital receipts.

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