Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy has joined his colleagues in Wales and Scotland to call on Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to increase targeted support for those most affected by the cost of living crisis.
In a joint letter, Mr Murphy, along with Rebecca Evans and Kate Forbes, said further measures were needed to support households and businesses ahead of another rise in energy prices.
They are also calling on the chancellor to develop a “fair approach” to public sector pay and are calling for an increase in devolved budgets to deal with new pressures, including on health services.
Mr Zahawi replaced Rishi Sunak as Chancellor earlier this month, shortly before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation.
Mr Sunak previously announced £650 will be paid to more than eight million low-income households receiving benefits, as well as a scheme which will see all UK households receive a grant to reduce their energy bill by £400 from October.
The three devolved finance ministers wrote to the new chancellor to welcome him to his position and outline areas they said “required attention”.
Their letter said: “Governments continue to do everything in their power to maximize support for households in the cost of living crisis.
“However, many of the levers that can make the biggest difference sit with the UK Government.
“While we recognize that the measures taken so far by the UK Government have eased some of the pressure on households, further action is needed to address the significant gaps in support for vulnerable households, families, businesses and service delivery.
“The prospect of a larger-than-expected fall energy price increase will only add to the pressures they face. The UK Government must also take more concerted steps to ensure more sustainable energy prices in the longer term.
“The cost of living crisis is not evenly distributed, and the focus should be on providing targeted support to those most affected, rather than broad tax cuts.
“Nor should taxes lead to tighter controls on spending that will affect the provision of public services that are already under enormous pressure.”
The three ministers are also calling for a “fair and appropriate” approach by the UK Government on public sector pay and pay rise guarantees for workers.
On the topic of decentralized budgets, the ministers say: “Due to inflationary pressures, our budgets for the next three years are now worth significantly less than when we formulated the spending plans last year.”
“In addition to public wages and rising public energy costs, there are other significant pressures on our services, including education and enabling NHS recovery and reform.
“Our budgets should be increased in line with these pressures.
“The NHS turns 75 next year and this presents a much-needed opportunity to increase funding for a service that many of us rely on.
“We urge you to consider these issues and take the steps necessary to address these significant issues.”