Belfast Telegraph

'Meagre' funds hike will damage PSNI, warns federation

By Suzanne Breen

The Police Federation has warned the Government that the "meagre" 0.3% increase in the Department of Justice's budget will inflict "real damage" on the PSNI.

Federation chairman Mark Lindsay told the Belfast Telegraph the department was once again "the poor relation", with a "wholly inadequate" rise in funding in the spending plan unveiled by Westminster.

"The PSNI is facing a 2.7% cut which is £17.55m in real terms. That is unsustainable," he said.

"Services will be undermined by this drastic surgery to the budget with huge consequences for ordinary, everyday policing. Officers want to get on with the job of serving the community, tackling drugs, trafficking and, of course, terrorism.

"The Government needs to realise that giving policing such a low priority is a false economy. At some stage down the line, there will be a price to be paid for this degree of erosion in officer numbers and PSNI budget."

Mr Lindsay urged the Government to "pull back from this unfathomable course of action".

On Thursday, Secretary of State Karen Bradley revealed the Government's £12bn spending plan for Northern Ireland, which included £410m from its confidence and supply deal with the Tories.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: "This money will help unionists and nationalists alike. The 5.5% increase for hospitals will help everyone. The 4.3% increase in schools funding will help everyone.

"(The) £100m to implement hospital reforms that Michelle O'Neill walked away from, will help everyone. The £200m infrastructure boost with help everyone."

Mr Wilson accused Sinn Fein of "whingeing" about the budget while failing to produce any "realistic ideas". He added: "Hot air from Sinn Fein will not fund public services."

The Department of Health received a 2.6% increase in real terms in the budget.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan welcomed the extra money, but said there was still a £160m funding gap.

"The more pressing issue is that we are now looking at handing political control of our health service to the Conservative Party and the DUP," he said.

"The Tories in control of our health service is worst-case scenario for patients and professionals."

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the budget was "a bad deal for ordinary people".

"What extra money the DUP has scraped doesn't scratch the surface of what is needed in the public sector," he added.

"In particular, what's on offer for health and education is shameful, given the clear message from educators and medical professionals that they can't make ends meet.

Belfast Telegraph

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