NIs public transport wins funding boost

27 Sep 01
Public transport emerged as the biggest winner in next year's Northern Ireland spending plans, announced this week by Finance Minister Mark Durkan.

28 September 2001

Expenditure on public transport will rise by 36%, partially to implement rail safety improvements. Road transport schemes also receive a major boost, especially the Trans-European Network from the port of Larne to Newry, on route to Dublin.

Health spending rises by £186m or 8.1%. However, Durkan admitted that expenditure increases of 7–8% are needed just to maintain standards of health care.

The Department for Social Development receives a budget increase of £35m or 8.6%, for housing improvements, welfare reform and the modernisation of benefits administration.

Allocations to departments from the Executive rise by 7%, from £5,891m to £6,303m. This will be paid for by a 7% increase in the domestic regional rate and 3.3% in non-domestic regional rate. After allowing for contributions from the UK government and European Union schemes, departments' total expenditure rises by 5.8%.

'This draft budget marks a further step in breaking away from pre-devolution patterns and priorities,' said Durkan.

But he added that Northern Ireland could not expect continued comparable increases, unless the Barnett Formula – which determines the split of UK government spending across the four home nations – is changed. This was 'as good as it gets', said Durkan.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is scheduled to approve the draft budget in December, together with the annual update of the 'Programme for Government', but this can only happen if the continuing political stalemate can be overcome.


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