Westminster sets NI budget

9 Mar 18

Westminster has set Northern Ireland’s budget, as the country is still without its own administration. 

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley has put forward £410m of the £1bn confidence and supply agreemeent agreed between the Conservatives and Democratic Unionist Party last year.

Theresa May gave the DUP the £1bn to help prop up her Conservative government after her party lost its majority in the June election last year.  

Bradley said: “There are acute pressures across public services [in Northern Ireland] to be addressed in 2018/19.

“And clarity is required now to enable planning to proceed for the year ahead.

“It is now imperative, therefore, that the UK government provides clarity and certainty around Northern Ireland finances for 2018/19.”

Of the £410m, £80m will go towards support for immediate health and education pressures while £30m will be used for mental health issues.

Also, £100m will be allocated to the ongoing effort to transform the health service, which Bradley described as “urgent work” in a written statement, released yesterday.

In addition, there will be a £200m boost in capital spending for key infrastructure programmes.

Bradley also announced a 4.5% rise in domestic rates, which she hopes will offer support for public services.

Business rates will only rise by 1.5%.

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, said: “Having called for a budget to be passed at Westminster, we welcome the secretary of state’s necessary intervention to give departments certainty and fund public services for the next financial year.

“Departments living hand-to-mouth is no way to run public services.

“Cynics doubted the C&S money would ever be delivered but today it has helped achieve an improved budget compared to the one that many feared.”

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill said: “This is a disappointing budget, which does not provide the resources need for the public services our people need and deserve.

“We need more than stop-gap measures. We should be in a reformed executive today, with the local parties setting out a budget and acting as a bulwark against Tory austerity.”

The British government stepped in following continued breakdowns in power-sharing talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin .

This is the second time Westminster has set Northern Irelands budget since January 2017. 

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