UK Government announces extra £1 billion funding package for Northern Ireland Executive
The UK Government has announced its funding package for the newly re-established Northern Ireland Executive.
In a statement on Wednesday evening the Government revealed an extra £1 billion on top of the £1 billion which Northern Ireland would expect under the Barnett Formula.
The funding will be accompanied by “stringent conditions” to ensure a “greater level of accountability for public spending” and ensure the new Executive is building sustainable public services, according to the statement.
A new UK Government-Northern Ireland Executive joint board will be established, convened by the Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith to oversee implementation.
Mr Smith said the money will end the ongoing pay dispute by health workers as well as transform public services.
“New Decade, New Approach is about putting Northern Ireland’s Assembly on a sustainable footing,” he said.
“This funding provides certainty to the Executive and ensures much-needed reforms across health, education and justice can be delivered.”
Of the £2 billion, £1 billion was described as a Barnett Formula-based investment guarantee from the UK Government.
Of the remaining total, there will be an injection of £550 million to the Northern Ireland Executive, which includes £200 million to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity over the next two years.
£60 million of capital and resource funding will be ringfenced to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Londonderry, subject to Executive approval, with £45 million provided by the Inclusive Future Fund announced in May 2019.
£50 million over two years will be provided to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport and around £245 million will support the transformation of public services.
There is also £140 million to address what was termed as “Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances”.
Earlier, Northern Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers wrote to Boris Johnson claiming the financial proposal around the deal to restore Stormont is not adequate.
Civil servants in Belfast are preparing detailed costings for pledges the British and Irish governments made in the agreement restoring the devolved institutions, Stormont finance minister Conor Murphy said.
Mr Murphy said: “The first and deputy first minister wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday to tell him that we are doing a piece of work, a more detailed piece of work through my department, costing the commitments that the two governments made in the document that they produced last week.
“We want to provide accurate costs for that.
“We intend on the back of that work to engage with Treasury, to engage with the Prime Minister’s office and to engage with the Northern Ireland Office because that is where the blockage is in terms of that commitment.
“The Executive is united in terms of its approach to this.”
Mr Murphy visited the Casement Park sports ground in West Belfast which is awaiting a long-delayed overhaul.
Parts of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure and wider public services have suffered during the three-year devolution hiatus.
Final resolution of an unprecedented nurses strike which has paralysed parts of the health service was also earlier awaiting confirmation of new funding from the British Government.
Mr Murphy said his officials were working on the detail of the commitments outlined in the agreement.
He said: “Once that work is complete, we will pick that up next week and we may well be over in London talking to people in the Treasury and in Downing Street.”
The deal which sealed the return of the Northern Ireland Executive includes an intention to complete planned stadia programmes.
The construction of a new stadium at Casement Park was badly delayed by safety concerns and objections from residents.
A renewed business case came into Stormont’s Communities Department in November.
It is intended to be a centrepiece for Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) games in Northern Ireland.
The project has an overspend of £33 million, a recent Audit Office report said.
Building has still not started three years after the expected completion date.
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