Sir Jeffrey said,
“The DUP is not going to be brow-beaten by the Government. We will stand up for Northern Ireland and get the best deal for the people we represent. It is now clear for all to see that the NIO is playing politics with public services in Northern Ireland.
Whilst we agree with and support the need for transformation of our services to better reflect the needs of our citizens, this will not be the outcome of this flat budget allocation. The Secretary of State knows this to be the case. If the Northern Ireland Executive was reformed tomorrow, there is not enough money in the system to fund our public services let alone reform them.
The costs and impacts of inflation, energy costs as well as the need to fairly fund wage settlements are not taken account of in what is being proposed. If we do not invest in proper pay awards for our public sector workers, then our ability to deliver public services will be greatly diminished.
Whether it is an NIO Minister or a local Finance Minister, the problem is the same, there is not enough money from Treasury. The Treasury contribution to fund public services in Northern Ireland is going down rather than rising. As an example, in England up to 2025, spending will increase by 6% but only 3.6% in Northern Ireland.
We reminded the Secretary of State that these funding problems are not new and have been flagged up by the Northern Ireland Fiscal Council repeatedly. The Barnett Formula is not working for Northern Ireland as it does not take account of need.
If the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister want to see sustainable local decision-making, then much more assistance and support will be needed from His Majesty’s Government alongside a locally agreed modern public services plan that moves Northern Ireland into more stable territory.
There can be no disguising the fact that the Westminster Government is not investing in a way that would support long-term modernisation.”