Theresa Villiers said:
Today’s budget shows a Government determined to back the aspirations of working people across the whole of the United Kingdom and secure our economic future. It is another step on the road away from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy towards a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country, not least through the introduction of our National Living Wage.
The Government’s long term economic plan is working, with over two million more jobs, growth forecast to be the fastest of any major developed economy, earnings growing at a higher rate than at any time since the recession and a budget deficit now halved as a proportion of GDP.
Northern Ireland will continue to benefit from the UK’s recovery.
In Northern Ireland, employment is up by more than 40,000 since 2010, unemployment is down by over 7,000 in the past year and the claimant count has fallen for 27 months in a row.
Today’s Budget delivers some tough choices on welfare but the changes to personal tax allowances will provide an average tax cut of £82 for over 700,000 people and lift an additional 15, 000 individuals out of tax altogether. But if Northern Ireland is to realise its full potential it is vital that the Executive is able to make the most of the £2 billion of additional spending power on offer from the Government.
And we have to move away from the insistence of some parties in Northern Ireland that the best option is to continue to trap working age people in a state of low wages, high tax and welfare dependency. The Stormont House Agreement needs to be implemented in full to deliver sustainable finances.
The UK’s recovery has only happened because of the hard work of people across the UK, and a Government not prepared to shy away from difficult decisions. But the biggest mistake we could make would be to say that the job is done.
As the Chancellor said today, if a country fails to control borrowing then borrowing takes control of a country.
That is why the Budget today continues to take those measures necessary to secure our recovery and to ensure that the whole of the United Kingdom lives within its means.
It is a one nation budget for working people.