Measures to raise more public revenue in Northern Ireland are being considered, the secretary of state has said.
Decisions have effectively been left to Chris Heaton-Harris in the north in the absence of the Stormont Executive amid DUP protest action over post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Speaking to media in Belfast today, Mr Heaton-Harris said action needs to be taken to bring Northern Ireland’s finances under control, and he will consider information prepared around potential revenue raising measures.
“I asked for a lot of information from the Northern Ireland Civil Service who have done a tonne of work on this revenue raising piece and answered the questions,” he said.
“I’m minded to go ahead with the public consultations but I want to actually read what’s been presented to me to make sure I am making the right decisions.”
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Earlier Mr Heaton-Harris met with the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Jayne Brady to hear what progress has been made in talks with the political parties around challenges to the region’s finances and public services.
He said he is “acutely aware” that the ongoing absence of a Stormont Executive is “exasperating the challenges facing all public services across Northern Ireland”.
“Action needs to be taken to bring Northern Ireland’s public finances under control and make them sustainable for future years, and the necessary decisions have not been taken by local leaders to ensure affordable public service transformation can take place, and now that is being felt in the most undesirable of ways by people across Northern Ireland,” he told media in Belfast.
“The people of Northern Ireland urgently need a credible plan to deliver sustainable public services.”
He said the civil service have been working hard on this, but in the absence of a Stormont Executive a plan cannot be agreed.
Mr Heaton-Harris said he plans to meet with political leaders in the coming weeks to review progress.