Government budget 'Thatcherite on steroids,' says Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy

  • WATCH: Finance Minister Conor Murphy speaking at a press conference.

The Stormont Finance Minister has described the Government's mini budget as "Thatcherite on steroids".

Conor Murphy was speaking after Kwasi Kwarteng announced he would be slashing the top rate of income tax for highest earners.

"They provide support, tax breaks for the super wealthy and little else for anyone else in this crisis," Mr Murphy told UTV.

"The overall tenor of this is one which supports those who are already wealthy."

"If you are a family that is struggling to heat your home and put food on the table, then there's nothing in this budget for them."

Mr Murphy said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury on Friday morning - a call in which he said he outlined his "complete disappointment" at the fact a number of issues had remained "unaddressed".

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng also announced a number of new low tax "investment zones" saying he was "very willing and eager" to roll out these zones in Northern Ireland where possible.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson said the scale of the measures announced was surprising.

"I think many people will be astounded at the reaction there has been today at the Chancellor's proposals to increase economic growth in the United Kingdom, which will increase standards of living, increase employment, help to raise revenue for public services and reduce national debt," the East Antrim MP said.

"I only hope that the Brexit freedoms that he is talking about, once we are free of the Northern Ireland Protocol, will lead to investment zones and regulatory reform in Northern Ireland," Mr Wilson added.

Conor Murphy, however, described the plans over investment zones as a "distraction announcement."

The UUP's Finance Spokesperson Steve Aiken described the budget as a "radical change of approach for our economy."

"While it may address the energy crisis and help reduce inflation, albeit in the short term, it does create the risk of not delivering the growth the economy needs," Mr Aiken said.

"The amount of debt that our nation will accrue will be a challenge for many decades to come, particularly if the huge gamble by the Prime Minister and Chancellor doesn’t succeed.

“In Northern Ireland the cuts in income tax, the abolition of the higher rate of income tax and the reverse in the increase in national insurance contribution will be welcomed by most.  The reversal of the corporation tax increase will also be very beneficial to our businesses.

“While it remains to be seen whether VAT free shopping can be applied here because of the Protocol, there is much in the detail of this statement to be cautiously supportive of – if it can be applied here, and if - and it is a big if - it does create the conditions for GDP growth rates of 2.5%”

The SDLP also slammed the mini-budget saying it has been designed by "millionaires for millionaires," rather than those in need.

"These plans show just how detached this government is from the desperate situation families are facing," Mr Eastwood said.

"Rather than taking further steps to help people heat their homes and put food on the table this winter we saw a number of measures that will see the rich get richer, while our communities are left in the cold. “A decision to remove the cap on bankers’ bonuses at a time when many people’s salaries don’t cover their basic necessities is vulgar in the extreme.

"This is the Tory party acting as they have always done, making sure that their wealthy backers and big businesses are well looked after, without a thought for the rest of us.

"Trickledown economics doesn’t work, it has never worked and all it will achieve is to widen inequalities at a time when those who are struggling have less than ever before," he said.

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