NI civil service asks Treasury for first £20m from £1bn DUP-Tory deal
Health and education departments first to benefit from ‘confidence and supply’ agreement
Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster came to an arrangement in June. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA
The Northern Ireland Civil Service has asked HM Treasury for the first £20m of the £1bn pledged under a “confidence and supply” deal agreed between the Democratic Unionist Party and the Conservatives in exchange for DUP propping up Theresa May’s minority government.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Finance has confirmed it will draw down £15m for the health service and £5m for education in this financial year.
In an update on its 2017-18 financial position, the department includes the £20m in a total of £114m in additional funding – most of which will be spent on health, education and infrastructure, and some of which has been reallocated from over-funded departments.
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The money will supplement the NI Budget, passed by Westminster this month because Northern Ireland has had no executive since its breakdown in power-sharing arrangements in January. Civil servants took control of public spending in the devolved nation in March, when elections to the Stormont Assembly returned Sinn Féin and the DUP as the two largest parties but they failed to reach a deal.
On delivering the NI Budget Bill in parliament earlier this month, the Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire said the figures contained in the budget did not “secure the financial position for the long-term”. He pledged to make £50m of the DUP-Tory deal available to address pressures in health and education in this financial year.
He added that in the absence of an executive, the NI civil service would make decisions about accessing the funding, which would then by voted on by parliament.
The NI Department of Finance has stated that “the need to access the remaining £30m for health and education” promised by Brokenshire “will be kept under review”.
“A key consideration will be whether it would be best to propose accessing the funding in 2017/18 or 2018/19,” it said, adding that the Treasury had confirmed that any unspent money could be reprofiled next year.
This year the education department will get £26m of the total additional funding, to be spent in schools, while the health department will receive just under £54m for winter pressures, investment in areas such as reducing waiting lists, ICT and medical equipment, as well as to address pay pressures – if agreed with a minister when one is finally appointed. The infrastructure department will spend its £26m boost on roads and structural maintenance.
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