Northern Ireland

UUP MLAs make no final decision on draft budget support

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Image caption The budget is intended to save £4bn by the end of 2014-15

The UUP assembly team has not made any final decision on whether its ministers will vote against the executive budget.

It is understood the party explored its options but is awaiting the final budget before making a final decision.

So far, only DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance ministers have backed the draft proposal, which would cut £4bn by the end of 2014-15.

There have been 4,000 responses to a public consultation on the plan, which is due to be voted on on 14 March.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP are a minority in the executive and are trying to gain an electoral advantage by not giving the budget their support.

However, SDLP Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has said the draft must be improved.

He added that Mr McGuinness and Peter Robinson had been attacking the health minister, Michael McGimpsey, as a distraction.

Mr McGimpsey accused Martin McGuinness of being at the heart of a "dysfunctional executive" and said he would not support "taxing the sick" through cuts to his budget.

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