Funding reallocation sees £72m diverted to health service
The health service in Northern Ireland will be boosted by an additional £72 million as a result of a quarterly reallocation of Executive funds.
The Department of Education will be given an extra £30 million and £28 million will be diverted to the Department of Infrastructure in the June monitoring round, which has seen a total of £175 million distributed from the central funding pot.
An extra £20 million will also be spent on developing workforce skills, primarily through the further education sector.
The extra cash for health brings to £200 million the additional funds diverted to the service above what was originally agreed in the annual Executive budget.
No departments will face cuts in the monitoring round, as the central pot is in ruder health than anticipated when the budget was struck.
Around £56 million was carried over from the last financial year; not as much welfare mitigation spending is required in 2016/17 as originally forecast; and departments have also begun to realise savings as a consequence of the civil service voluntary exit scheme.
The outcome of the monitoring round was outlined to the Assembly by Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir.
Of the £175 million, £35 million will be spent on capital projects, including almost £23 million for flood prevention measures, road maintenance and investment in Waterways Ireland.
The June monitoring round has been agreed earlier than in any previous years.
"This positive monitoring round represents a determination on my part to work with ministerial colleagues to deliver a 'fresh start' not just through words - but demonstrated in deeds," said Mr O Muilleoir.
"Despite huge pressures on budgets as a result of the Westminster austerity agenda, we have managed to bring forward a monitoring round which does not contain cuts. The allocations made in this monitoring round will deliver positive outcomes by supporting funding for key public services.
"The pressures in our health service are well documented and an additional £72 million funding will go a considerable way to help addressing these issues. It brings the total additional funding provided to health this year to £200 million and is evidence of the Executive's commitment to protecting our health service.
"It is important that we invest in education and up-skilling our workforce as we seek to grow our economy. An additional £20 million in this monitoring round will go towards supporting that skills agenda and an additional £30 million is allocated to education, which is a crucial investment in our young people."
The minister added: "This monitoring round demonstrates what can be achieved by working together, in spite of the financial constraints, and I will continue to make best endeavours to prevent the least well off from shouldering this burden."