Belfast Telegraph

Confusion over Tory-DUP £1bn as Treasury boss put focus on Stormont deal

By Rachel Martin

New controversy is brewing over the DUP’s £1bn deal with the Conservative government — with questions being asked on exactly when the extra funding will be put to use.

Tory minister Andrew Jones was asked about the deal during a visit to Northern Ireland yesterday. But the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury gave little away on how the extra spending power will be used if talks to restore the Stormont Executive fail.

Mr Jones said: “That money is part of a bigger deal with the DUP and it will be coming to Northern Ireland, but it is all part of those broader negotiations.

“Money will be allocated and spent as per the decisions of the devolved administration, so yes, we do want that administration up and running as soon as it possibly can.

“This money is coming to Northern Ireland and the people of Northern Ireland will benefit from it.”

Meanwhile, UUP leader Robin Swann yesterday claimed confusion “is continuing to reign”.

He said: “The public will rightly be wondering when they can expect to feel the benefit of this money, which raises another question. If this money is not yet being factored into spending plans, could it be the next financial year before it starts being injected into projects?

“Many of the areas this cash has been flagged to target, such as the health service, mental health and major infrastructure projects, are in need of a financial boost urgently.”

The Exchequer Secretary visited G4S’s high-security Belfast coin storage facility and highlighted the switchover to the new 12-sided £1 coin.

With the old round pounds ceasing to be legal tender on October 15, he hailed the replacement as the most secure form of currency in the world. There are now more new pound coins in circulation than their predecessor — a coin that had become an easy target for counterfeiters.

Mr Jones noted that 3% of the old coins were counterfeit.

“That basically adds up to almost £50m of fake coinage in circulation in our country,” he added.

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