Business Community Government Politics Stormont Westminster

SDLP Proposes Financial Triple Lock to Protect Public Services From Cuts and Deliver Good Government in NI

The SDLP opposition will use a roundtable meeting with the Secretary of State and other political parties to propose a financial Triple Lock to protect public services in Northern Ireland while also finally underwriting long overdue good governance in Northern Ireland. 

With public services at real risk from swinging cuts imposed by a Tory Government at Westminster with no mandate in the North, and no Executive or Assembly to chart a different course, the SDLP will propose a series of protections for public services, along with new measures to deliver more effective government at Stormont.

The public services ‘Triple Lock’ will consist of three interlocking pledges that should be agreed by the UK Government and parties, consisting of:

1. A commitment that no cuts can be imposed on the people and services of Northern Ireland in the absence of proper democratic accountability via functioning devolved institutions, but with a package of increased financial support designed to deliver a multi-year programme of public service reform and economic improvement.

2. Legislation to give the Fiscal Council the legal responsibility to report on the performance of the Executive twice a year on how it is not just managing finances but meeting a range of key targets on public service delivery, including: reducing waiting lists, tackling the cost of division, boosting economic performance and reducing poverty levels.

3. An obligation on a new Executive to formally respond and deliver an action plan on the findings of the Fiscal Commission within one year, with new proposals on revenue raising and a commitment from the UK Government to facilitate further fiscal devolution as required and review the outdated Barnett Formula. 

This three-part plan represents the most coherent strategy yet for protecting Northern Ireland’s public services from the immediate threat of devastating cuts, while ensuring a multi-year legal underpinning for good governance, finally addressing chronic underperformance at Stormont.

SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole said:

“We are serious about being a constructive opposition, and our financial Triple Lock represents the most credible plan yet for avoiding the catastrophe of sudden and devastating cuts to public services, while also building in new rules to deliver better devolved Government when an Executive is restored.

“The two larger parties have mismanaged this place for more than a decade, but at the DUP is preventing any Government at all – which is handing the power to austerity mad Tory ministers and indifferent Treasury officialdom to destroy our public services. We need a plan to protect those services, but also lay the ground for a proper period of delivery and reform – tackling waiting lists, underperforming public services and delivering serious economic opportunity.

“Our Triple Lock ensures that no cut can happen without a new Executive with a financial package to deliver decent Government rather than chaotic carve up followed by collapse. But that new Executive will need to be held to account properly, including by the Opposition. The second part of our plan is that the new Fiscal Council will explain clearly to citizens how well or badly the Executive is dealing with key targets on public services and the economy. And there will need to be a plan from the Executive for how they intend to make use further fiscal powers to both raise revenue and drive our economy better.

“This plan from a constructive opposition represents a serious attempt to deal with the immediate financial catastrophe facing public services, while also put us on a long overdue path to better government. We will be urging other parties to support us.”


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