Stormont budget: declaration of war on public services & working class people

Stormont’s return was always going to be on an incredibly weak basis. The fundamental issues at the heart of its suspension in 2022 have still not been resolved. Despite all the grand promises from the executive to solve the multiple crises in our society, including the crisis in healthcare, our public services, and the gender violence epidemic to name a few, the new woefully inadequate spending budget agreed by the main parties will mean only further misery for working-class people in the North.

Stormont’s return was always going to be on an incredibly weak basis. The fundamental issues at the heart of its suspension in 2022 have still not been resolved. Despite all the grand promises from the executive to solve the multiple crises in our society, including the crisis in healthcare, our public services, and the gender violence epidemic to name a few, the new woefully inadequate spending budget agreed by the main parties will mean only further misery for working-class people in the North.

Even the Health Minister Robin Swann has opposed the proposed budget on the basis that it will result in en masse cuts to essential services and job losses and ‘will drive unplanned and potentially chaotic change from which we will struggle to recover.’ Each health care trust in the North is now facing an estimated 50 million shortfall. In order to make that saving up, would mean very significant job losses in service that are already overstretched. Education is in a similar boat. Meanwhile MLAs are happy to take pay increases despite only being back a few weeks. In reality, this budget isn’t even enough to keep things afloat – many services would no longer function.

This is presented as the only way. The Stormont parties are all pushing the same line of argument. Despite tokenistic appeals for money from Westminster, they take no serious steps to achieve this. What they’re doing amounts to taking money from one drowning service and giving it to another. 

We don’t have to accept this. There exists in society the wealth and resources to not only fill the financial gap, but to fully fund our public services. But this will require a struggle, both in our workplaces and in our communities to save our services and fight for a real living wage. Stormont cannot be let off the hook. We should not accept this joke of a budget – we need to fight for a needs-based-budget, even if it means forcing MLA’s to break restrictive financial laws which prioritise capital and profit. It means we must mobilise the trade unions to fight for extra resources from Westminster. Imagine if the wealth in all of society was used to meet the needs of people rather than line the pockets of a few individuals?  

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