Northern Ireland

Group warns draft budget will not promote economy

Cash
Image caption The draft budget is intended to save £4bn cumulatively by 2014-15

A group of experts who advise the enterprise minister have warned that the draft budget will not promote the NI economy or tackle unemployment.

The Economic Advisory Group said not enough priority is being given to the four departments designed to boost the economy.

They are Enterprise, Employment, Education and Regional Development.

The group made its remarks as part of the consultation on the draft budget, published this week.

The Economic Advisory Group, whose members include banking and business leaders, said the four departments face some of the largest cuts over the next four years with the Department of Enterprise losing 14% of its budget.

The group said the Executive cannot realistically hope to stem the tide of unemployment with these measures.

It also warns that cuts to Invest Northern Ireland's budget will have a detrimental impact on its ability to generate jobs and investment.

The draft budget, which is intended to save £4bn cumulatively by the end of 2014-15, has been backed by the DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance.

The Ulster Unionists and SDLP have so far refused to support it, with the SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie describing it as "lazy" earlier this week.

Last month, a report compiled by management consultants on behalf of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action said the draft plan was a "patch and mend approach".

The budget has also been criticised by the finance committee at Stormont which said that it took too long to put together.

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