£90 million public expenditure announced
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has unveiled the Executive’s budget allocation of some £90million to departments in the remainder of this financial year.
The Department of Health was the main beneficiary of allocations announced by the Minister receiving £30million towards a number of key health care pressures. Other allocations included £24million for the Department for Regional Development (DRD) mainly for roads maintenance, £6million for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and £2.5million for the Department for Social Development (DSD).
Commenting on the allocation to DRD, Transport Minister, Danny Kennedy said: “This additional funding will target structural maintenance on the local road network to help address the significant backlog and reduce the actual resurfacing cycles. It will also provide new drainage, some reconstruction and the resurfacing of around 160 kilometres of road. In addition, some £3million funding will be used to help deliver improvements to bus stations and workshops, for constructing crash barriers and for cycling.”
The allocation also includes loan funding of £35 million to support the University of Ulster in developing its new Belfast campus. Commenting, Simon Hamilton said: “I am delighted that the Executive has demonstrated its commitment to this project that will bring significant regeneration benefits to that part of Belfast. This scheme demonstrates the Executive’s ability to deliver innovative funding solutions that will benefit the local economy.”
Some £15million has to be set aside to meet penalties imposed by the UK Government in realation to Welfare Reform. The Minister articulated his concerns: “I remain disappointed by the lack of progress on welfare reform, whilst the cost of delay this year is £15million, this will quickly escalate to some £200million and will have a damaging effect on our public services. The Welfare Reform Bill needs to be agreed as a matter of urgency.”
The in-year monitoring rounds currently take place three times in each financial year (June, October and January). This process is the vehicle for the Northern Ireland Executive to reallocate funding and address unforeseen financial pressures in year.