Westminster budget for Northern Ireland sees health spending rise 5.4%

15 Nov 17

Westminster's imposed budget on Northern Ireland will see overall spending go up 3.2% and health spending rise by 5.4%, James Brokenshire has announced. 

The bill will allow the release of £16.17bn from the country’s bank account for use in the current financial year, the Northern Ireland secretary told Parliament on Monday.

It will also allow departments and certain other bodies to access £18bn in the year. Estimates for departments have been prepared by the Northern Ireland Department of Finance, Brokenshire explained.

The secretary of state made clear he was taking this action “with the utmost reluctance” and the passage of legislation to set a budget “should not be a barrier to negotiations continuing”.

The move comes because of the political impasse in the country, with Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party continuing to fail to form an executive for the past 10 months.

Brokenshire told Parliament: “My strong preference would be for a restored executive in Northern Ireland to take forward its own budget.”

But he added: “The ongoing lack of agreement has had tangible consequences for people and public services in Northern Ireland.”

He paid tribute to the Northern Ireland Civil Service that had “demonstrated the utmost professionalism in protecting and preserving public service” while taking decisions on spending and public services “without political direction”.

Brokenshire has previously warned that the civil service in Northern Ireland would be at risk of running out of money if a budget was not set in the near future.

The legislation went through the House of Commons on Monday and is expected to get Royal Assent on Thursday.

The budget does not include the £1bn tranche of extra investment secured by the DUP through a confidence and supply deal between them and Theresa May’s government following the general election.

But Brokenshire said Northern Ireland was experiencing “immediate health and education pressures” and therefore separate to the bill, £50m of the £1bn deal would be given to the civil service to meet these needs.

He concluded: “It remains firmly in the interests of Northern Ireland to see devolved government restored—to see locally elected politicians making decisions for the people of Northern Ireland on key local matters.”

Break-down of Northern Ireland budget, from the NI Department of Finance, below: 

Northern Ireland budget

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