Stormont Finance Committee to probe details of finance package amid revenue raising dispute

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Chair of the Finance Committee and Leader of the opposition Matthew O'Toole Credit: PA

The Leader of the Opposition and Chair of the Finance Committee, Matthew O' Toole, will seek further clarity on the terms of the £3.3 billion pound financial package for restoring devolution at the committee's first meeting today.

It comes after the UK Government told the Executive that Stormont must raise at least £113 million pounds of revenue in the next budget in a letter to Finance Manager Caoimhe Archibald on Tuesday.

Archibald has said this will cause “harm to hard-pressed families, households and businesses”.

After days of "contradictory statements and confusion", Mr O'Toole said he will call on Executive Ministers and the Secretary of State to spell out the terms of the funding deal and what it means for ordinary people.

The South Belfast MLA said:

“There are still more questions than answers over what exactly was agreed in the financial package between the Executive parties and the UK government.

"Despite time and space to nail down the details there appear to be fundamental disagreements over what exactly has been agreed and the strings attached.

"If the British government is unilaterally imposing new charges on the people of the north to pay for political failure that would be profoundly unacceptable, but the Executive parties should know not to trust the Tories. All this should have been clarified before now.

“This isn’t just a political he-said-she-said, this is about delivering basic public services for the people of Northern Ireland and what they’ll have to pay for them. The UK government has acknowledged that they have been underfunding this place for years so that too needs to be rectified.

“I will be seeking further clarity on this, starting with the first meeting of the new Finance Committee.”

The UK government has always maintained that the package is a "fair and generous offer".

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris welcomed confirmation of the settlement’s details.

“This package tackles the immediate budget pressures facing the restored executive and allows it to take action to rapidly stabilise public services, while increasing opportunities for investment and improved infrastructure,” he said.

“It also paves the way for vital transformation of public services, and will deliver well-deserved pay awards for public sector workers.

“It is now for the Northern Ireland executive to use this significant financial package to take forward the vital work of public service transformation and the commitment to deliver sustainable finances – ensuring better outcomes in the day-to-day lives of the people in Northern Ireland.”

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