Stormont sees biggest spending increase in a decade after devolution restored

Stormont ministers will enjoy their biggest spending increase for a decade next year.

Their financial firepower for day-to-day spending climbs by 8.1% to more than £12 billion following British Government commitments made in the deal to restore powersharing.

It means real-terms rises for all the devolved central Government departments, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said.

That boost is separate from extra funding allocated to tackle the effects of the coronavirus.

Northern Ireland has received £912 million to address the crippling impact of the outbreak on society.

£100 million of Covid-19 funding is allocated to fund a three-month rates holiday for all businesses.

The remaining £812 million will be allocated in a separate process.

Taxation imposed on businesses from Stormont, known as the regional rate, will be reduced by 18%, the minister said, in an effort to help firms becalmed by forced closures and lack of consumer demand.

Domestic rates will be frozen.

Other measures contained in Tuesday’s Budget included:

– £23 million to mitigate the effects of welfare reform cuts imposed from Westminster.

– £1 million to help people who were given contaminated blood.

– £37.5 million for compensating victims of historical institutional abuse when they were children.

– Extra money to help children with special needs.

– Cash for costs associated with the lasting impact of the 30-year conflict.

A significant sum was a result of this year’s New Decade, New Approach Agreement which made a range of commitments from ending the nurses’ strike over pay to promoting the role of the Irish language.

Mr Murphy said: “In difficult circumstances this Budget delivers additional funding for our citizens, for our workers, and for our businesses.”

In 2020-21, £12.2 billion of money for day-to-day spending will be allocated to departments, with a further £278.6 million to be allocated to the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Farm Support Payments which replace the EU Common Agriculture Policy payments.

In addition a further £70 million of centrally held funding will be allocated to departments during the year.

The Finance Minister warned: “In real terms our block grant remains some £360 million below pre-austerity levels when comparing like for like funding.

“Over that time the pressure on vital public services has increased.

“Public expectations were raised considerably by the New Decade New Approach document.

“But the British Government did not provide the funding necessary to deliver these priorities.

“However I am able to deliver a Budget that, compared to last year, provides real-terms increases to all departments.”

Read Full Story Click here to comment