Public spending outlook remains difficult - Murphy

Date published: 03 March 2021

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has welcomed the extension of furlough, support for newly self-employed, and additional funding for the Covid response. However money for everyday public spending has only increased by £4.2m and there is no additional Capital funding.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy smiling to camera

Conor Murphy said: “The biggest concern of many employers is wage costs so the extension of the Furlough Scheme until the end of September is good news for workers, families and businesses. However I am concerned that asking employers who may not be fully operational to find the cash for these wage costs could lead to redundancies. It’s also welcome that the Chancellor will support newly self-employed people.”

Commenting on the additional £411.9m, the Minister said: “Almost all of this money is one-off funding for the Covid response which is welcome as we look to the recovery phase however, it still leaves us with a flat-cash budget for mainstream public services.

“It is also disappointing that there is no extra Capital money to spur economic recovery. An investment-led approach is absolutely critical given we have never fully emerged from years of austerity measures.

Turning to EU funding, the Minister added: “The direction of travel for dealing with replacement EU funding is a significant cause for concern. The British Government continues to bypass the Executive, taking control of funds from Westminster instead of enabling funding decisions to be taken by locally elected Ministers. I raised this with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury today.

The Minister concluded: “The Executive is committed to supporting the health service, the vulnerable, individuals and businesses in the tough months ahead. I will shortly bring proposals to Executive colleagues on the extent of next year’s rates holiday which will be a lifeline for many businesses.”

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