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kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

The Northern Ireland budget could be cut by more than £2bn over the next four years, the finance minister has warned.

Cutbacks would be "fairly massive" for some departments, Sammy Wilson said.

It follows First Minister Peter Robinson's warning that the cuts would be devastating for the economy.

Mr Wilson added that the Treasury would have no sympathy for the argument that NI is 'a basket case economy', deserving special treatment.

He said the current budget, which funds ongoing government programmes, would be cut by over £1.5bn, more than 10%.

The capital budget, which funds roads and buildings will be cut by more than 30% or £500m.

Speaking at Stormont, Mr Wilson said that the rate of cuts would not be the same across all Executive departments.

'Fairly messy'

The scale of the cutbacks will start to become clear when the Chancellor reveals the outcome of the UK wide spending review on 20 October.

The size of Northern Ireland's block grant will be revealed on the same day and Mr Wilson said he hoped to get a budget through the Assembly early in the new year.

He said things "could get fairly messy" as the fine detail of the spending plans are worked out by the Executive.

However, he warned against any "procrastination", saying front-line managers in the public services need to know their budget position well in advance of the start of the financial year.

He said it would be impossible to push back the budget until after May's Assembly election as such a timetable would mean making a year's worth of cuts in the last three months of the financial year.

Mr Wilson also revealed that only four ministers, all from the DUP, have so far presented their savings delivery plans to the Department of Finance.

He was critical of some unnamed Executive colleagues saying "some departments are ignoring the difficulties coming down the road."

He dismissed the idea that the Executive could engage in a negotiation with the Treasury, pointing out that Northern Ireland's grant is determined by the Barnett spending formula.

Earlier in September, Mr Robinson said ministers in Northern Ireland would have to make very difficult decisions.

He said the cuts would have a "devastating impact bogging Northern Ireland down in a recession for a prolonged period".

He urged ministers not to play politics with the decisions they will face.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

The first and deputy first ministers have had a meeting in London with the Chancellor, George Osborne.

Peter Robinson said they had put the case for NI to be treated with special care, particularly in relation to cuts in capital spending.

Martin McGuinness said the chancellor had agreed to show flexibility in dealing with Northern Ireland.

Mr Osborne is expected to introduce severe cuts to public spending on 20 October.

To read more<

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Sinn Fein has put forward a £1.9bn package of savings and revenue-generating ideas to plug the projected gap in the Executive's finances.

The measures include taxing mobile phone operators £2,000 a month for each mast to raise £160m over four years.

It wants the four Northern Ireland banks to loan £400m for a development bond and would give the Housing Executive the power to borrow £250m.

The party suggests politicians take a voluntary 15% wage cut.

To read more<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

In Northern Ireland the health minister Michael McGimpsey has raised the alarm that the health budget could be £1.4bn short because of cuts to spending being imposed by the government.

McGimpsey said that the NI health service needed £5.4bn a year by 2014/15 but he was expecting to be handed a budget of £3.9bn instead.

But this would cause problems, he said, not least because Northern Ireland would have the fastest growing elderly population in the UK between now and 2020.

Also, the unfortunate spin-off of improving the ability to save people from life-threatening illnesses was that more money would have to be spent on long-term care.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

About the Programme for Government

The Executive’s over-arching aim is to build a peaceful, fair and prosperous society. To ensure that Government is clearly focused on achieving that aim, the Executive has set out in the Programme for Government five key strategic and interdependent priorities as follows:

  • growing a dynamic, innovative economy
  • promote tolerance, inclusion and health and well-being
  • protect and enhance our environment and natural resources
  • invest to build our infrastructure
  • deliver modern high quality and efficient public services

The Programme for Government highlights the key goals and actions the Executive will take to drive forward the priority areas. It includes a detailed Public Service Agreement Framework which sets out the actions and targets departments will take in support of the Executive’s priorities.

About the Budget

The Budget provides the Executive with an opportunity to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland by allocating resources to high priority areas and where the additional funds will yield the greatest benefit. It also provides an opportunity to assess if spending in certain areas should be continued or whether or not these resources would be of greater benefit to the public if spent elsewhere.

The spending plans of NI departments for the period 2008-09 to 2010-11 were first set as part of the NI Executive Budget 2008-11 process with final plans agreed by the Executive and the Assembly in January 2008.

In the summer of 2009 the Finance Minister initiated a review of the 2010-11 spending plans of departments in light of changing circumstances and the emerging pressures facing the Executive for the 2010-11 financial year. The revised 2010-11 spending plans for NI departments were agreed by the Executive and the Assembly in April 2010.<

The NI Executive is currently working to develop spending plans for the years 2011-12 to 2014-15 as part of the Budget 2010 process. The most significant issue impacting on the level of resources available for allocation will be the share of total public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland by the Treasury.

Although the outcome of the UK wide 2010 Spending Review is due to be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 October 2010, the latest forecasts for UK public spending included in the emergency Budget 2010 on 22 June 2010 suggest that there will be a real terms reduction in the funding available to the NI Executive over the next four years with an even greater decline in respect of capital investment. Therefore local departments will need to deliver significant levels of additional savings in order to address cost pressures and fund improvements in public services.

In this context, NI departments have been asked to produce Budget 2010 spending proposals by the end of July 2010 for consideration by the Executive. The draft Budget 2010 document will be published for consultation in the autumn, shortly after the 2010 Spending Review has concluded. In addition, departments will also publish draft Savings Delivery Plans setting out where they intend to make savings and how they will be delivered.

The intention is that the Budget 2010 process will be completed by the start of 2011 as reflected in the outline timetable set out below.

Outline Timetable for Budget 2010 Process

Activity Timing
Departments to begin work on plans to deliver savings April 2010
Guidance issued to departments in respect of Budget 2010 process Mid June
Guidance issued to departments in respect of Savings Delivery Plans End June
Pre-Consultation exercise with key stakeholders. July- early August
Budget 2010 departmental returns sent to DFP – Departments proposed spending plans including linkages to Programme for Government. End July
Ministerial bi-laterals   August – early September  
Draft proposals to Executive for consideration September
2010 Spending Review outcome announced by HMT 20 October
Draft Budget published for consultation as well as Savings Delivery Plans. End October
Public Consultation Process on the draft Budget. End October to early December
Revised Budget proposals to Finance Minister for consideration Early December
Revised Budget proposals to the Executive for consideration Mid December
Final Budget document published Late December


About the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland (ISNI)

The Investment Strategy identifies priority areas for investment in the years ahead, helps stakeholders in public, private and voluntary sector partners plan for the challenge of delivering the largest ever infrastructure programme.

More information on the Investment Strategy can be found on the Strategic Investment Board's website at the link below.

Consultation on the draft EQIA carried out at a strategic level on the Programme for Government, Budget and Investment Strategy.

The Consultation process on the draft Equality Impact Assessment carried out at a strategic level ended on 23 April 2008.

Responses to the consultation are available on request. Please see the list of available PFG publications below for details.

A consultation report on the process will follow.

Latest publications

For all the latest reports published please see links below.

A further list of all available PFG publications can be found at the link below.<