Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Osborne's Spending Review: PSNI to receive extra £31 million to fight dissidents

Chancellor George Osborne also announced proposed cuts of 2% for Northern Ireland's resource budget pending approval from Stormont

Chancellor George Osborne speaking in the House of Commons in London about his final spending plans before the country goes to the polls in 2015
Chancellor George Osborne speaking in the House of Commons in London about his final spending plans before the country goes to the polls in 2015

Police in Northern Ireland are to be given an extra £31 million to fight dissident terror groups, it was announced today as part of Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review.

The cash injection was outlined in the Commons, and could extend the £199.5 million of Treasury support provided to the PSNI in 2011.

"The ongoing provision of £31 million in security funding for the PSNI is clear evidence of this Government's commitment to maintain pressure on the terrorists to make Northern Ireland a safer place for everyone," said Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

The level of threat posed by republican terror groups such as Oglaigh na hEireann who murdered prison officer David Black last November and killed PSNI recruit Ronan Kerr in April 2011 has been classed as severe, which means an attack could be imminent.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Northern Ireland's proposed resource budget has been cut by 2% to £9.5 billion for 2015/16.

Because public sector pay is devolved from Westminster to Northern Ireland, the Executive will have the final say on whether the changes apply here.

But it's likely to be adopted as failure to do so would mean the savings would need to be found elsewhere - something Stormont can ill afford to do.

Thousands of public sector workers including civil servants, teachers, prison staff and police will not receive automatic annual pay rises based on length of service and there will also be a cap of 1% on pay increases for 2015/16, if Stormont approves the changes.

The Spending Review sets out how the Government will reduce its deficit by cutting public spending and prioritising investment.

Ms Villiers claimed Northern Ireland had received a fair deal.

She said: "At a time when the Government is taking the necessary measures to tackle the record deficit we inherited, today's spending review represents a fair settlement for Northern Ireland.

"In particular, Northern Ireland will benefit from significant new money for capital spending, enabling the Executive to invest more in our roads, schools and hospitals and other infrastructure projects.

"This comes on top of the additional money already announced since 2010 and will help in delivering key elements of the economic package agreed by the Government and the Executive earlier this month," she said.

Stormont's Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the outcome of the spending review was as good as could be expected for the province.

"Whilst it was inevitable that we would have to share the impact of the austerity drive applied to the UK budget, the continuation of the UK Government's decision to protect frontline services in health and education has a direct benefit for the Northern Ireland Executive's budget," he said.

"It means that the impact of the reductions applied at a Whitehall level is somewhat mitigated for Northern Ireland."

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