Fiscal Framework

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 7 May 2024.

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Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin 2:00, 7 May 2024

I have been consistent in setting out that engagement is continuing. So far, it has been constructive. My officials are engaging with Treasury officials. I have met with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on a number of occasions and am meeting her again later this afternoon. We need to see urgent action from the British Government to ensure that we are funded appropriately based on our level of need and that we do not face that financial cliff edge in two years' time. I have stressed that with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on my previous engagements with her, and I will continue to do that.

Despite the short-term uplift for our public finances due to the financial package, the current situation would see us effectively trapped below our level of need for a number of years, which would create a fiscal ceiling rather than the fiscal floor that all parties have been united in asking for. We are not asking for special treatment here. We are asking to be treated the same as Scotland and Wales and for our funding to be needs-based. Scotland and Wales are funded above need, and that will be denied to people here. That is not a tenable situation.

There are a number of other areas that we think any new fiscal framework should cover to help us to sustainably manage our public finances. These could include a new fiscal reserve, increased borrowing powers and increased devolved fiscal powers. That is part of the ongoing engagement.