Belfast Telegraph

£56m road and housing bids rejected

Bids for Northern Ireland roads and social housing work worth £56 million have been turned down because there is not enough money, it has been revealed.

More tough years lie ahead amid an uncertain financial climate, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said.

He announced the results of the September monitoring round which reallocates unspent money between government departments at the Assembly.

"We are all aware of the tough times that lie ahead and it is imperative that the Executive work together to tackle the difficult financial decisions facing us," he said.

"We must ensure that increasingly scarce resources are used in the best possible way to achieve the maximum benefit for the people of Northern Ireland."

Departments had submitted bids of £78 million for increased day-to-day spending and sought an extra £83 million for development.

Some of the larger projects turned down included a Roe Valley hydro-electric scheme and £34 million in roads structural maintenance. A bid for £22 million for a social housing development programme was declined. Despite this an extra £16.8 million is needed to maintain current spending.

Mr Wilson added good progress had been made in cutting the amount of shortfall faced by government departments but warned it was necessary not to increase the sum because of greater financial uncertainty.

"A less conservative risk would create a material risk that the Executive would have to impose further in-year reductions later in the financial year when departments would have little time to adjust," he said. "This is a risk that we simply were not prepared to take."

Proposed allocations include: £3.2 million for a shortfall of receipts at the Public Records Office Northern Ireland; minor health and safety works at further education colleges; £400,000 for HR Connect; £900,000 for urban regeneration contractual commitments at the Department for Social Development and £600,000 for work at the Maze/Long Kesh site. The audit office also received a small amount.

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