SDLP MPs respond to Spring Budget
SDLP MPs, Mark Durkan, Alasdair McDonnell and Margaret Ritchie have responded to the Spring Budget 2017, expressing disappointed at what they described as ‘the Chancellor’s failure to take full account of Northern Ireland’s requirements and the serious challenges Brexit creates for us’.
Alasdair McDonnell said, “The Chancellor’s Budget will give little comfort to those in Northern Ireland who were hoping for the much needed funding for our health service and education system. The additional funds announced will be easily absorbed by existing budgetary pressures.
“The Chancellor made no indication that he understands the serious challenge that Brexit poses to Northern Ireland. If he is accumulating a war chest for Brexit, he must make clear how much of that will be available to Northern Ireland.”
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Margaret Ritchie said, “The Chancellor paid lip service to International Women’s Day but yet made no mention of the Waspi (Women against state pension inequality) campaign, despite thousands of women marching on Parliament to call for a fair pension settlement. There was not even a window of consideration given to these women.
“The SDLP proudly supports the Waspi campaign and that of the Forgotten 14 in Northern Ireland and will continue to pursue the government on this matter. Moreover, the changes to National Insurance contributions from the self-employed need to be studied carefully to ensure small business owners are not unfairly penalised.”
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Mark Durkan said, “We have already seen the implementation of English votes for English laws, it now seems that we are moving into the realms of English budgets. There was little mention of Northern Ireland in this Budget but there are many implications in it of which we must be vigilant, not least in the area of welfare.
“Despite claiming that there would be no further welfare cuts, the past few weeks have seen cuts to Employment and Support Allowance and to Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds. If the Chancellor has a more money that he is holding in contingency, then he did not need to sustain the welfare cuts announced last year or to make further cuts.
“The SDLP has also made representations on the bereavement benefits and have lobbied the government to extend the DLA Mobility support to children under-threes with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions,” he added.
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