Northern Ireland

Cuts go too far, too fast says Peter Robinson

The devolved administrations in NI, Scotland and Wales all agree spending cuts planned by the coalition are too severe, Peter Robinson has said.

The three administrations have issued a joint statement calling for the cuts to be scaled back.

"There's a collective view that the cuts are going too far, too fast," NI First Minister Mr Robinson said.

Mr Robinson and Martin McGuinness are to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on the issue later on Thursday.

"You cannot ensure that there's going to be a recovery if you take billions of pounds particularly out of capital spend," Mr Robinson said.

"It is upon the capital spend that the infrastructure is developed, it gives a stimulus to the economy as a whole."

He added: "We have very considerable concerns - we believe it will have an impact on jobs, we believe it will have an impact on our economy for years to come."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the previous British government had promised Northern Ireland would be entitled to £18bn over 10 years.

"It doesn't take an economic genius to work out that we're presently in recession and that cuts in the magnitude of what are being speculated, if implemented, would plunge us further into a very deep recession which would take a very long time to recover from," Mr McGuinness said.

"So I think it is very important that the British government, now under the tutelage of David Cameron, does not dishonour the agreement that was made with ourselves and other members of our Executive prior to the establishment of the institutions."

'Considerable apprehension'

In their earlier joint statement, the three administrations said they awaited publication of the UK's comprehensive spending review "with considerable apprehension".

They warned of a lasting negative impact on the economy, including jobs.

They said they recognised that a credible budget strategy was vital in returning public finances to a sustainable footing but added that they were concerned that the Government's spending plans may put the recovery at risk.

The statement, signed by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, along with their Scottish and Welsh counterparts, Alex Salmond and Carwyn Jones, goes on to say that significant cuts should only be implemented when the recovery was well established.

Front-loading them over the next two years was entirely the wrong approach, the administrations said.

They urged the government to share its thinking before the spending review on 20 October so that their budgets could be organised as effectively as possible.