Belfast Telegraph

Our fiscal deficit still soars over rest of UK

By Clare Weir

The hole in Northern Ireland public purse represented a debt of almost £6,000 per head last year, according to a new report.

The latest Northern Ireland Net Fiscal Balance Report showed that in 2010-11 the fiscal deficit here - the amount of money the government spent minus the amount it brings in through the likes of taxes - was equivalent to £5,850 per head, compared to £2,454 in the rest of the UK.

While the 2010-11 fiscal deficit has decreased slightly from £10.8bn, the government has still spent £10.5bn more than it made during the period.

As a percentage of the 2010-11 GVA - the measure of economic output - our fiscal deficit was 38.3%, which again was significantly higher than the rest of the UK's equivalent of 12.3%.

However the figure has reduced from the 2009-10 period when the Northern Ireland fiscal deficit was equivalent to £6,020 per head - or 39.2% of GVA.

Total public sector revenue collected in Northern Ireland was estimated to be £12.7bn, 2.4% of the equivalent UK total, up from £11.9bn in the previous period.

The report showed that over the period 2006-07 to 2010-11, public sector revenue remained relatively flat, showing a small increase of 2.8% while in the rest of the UK revenue grew by 5.7% over the same time period.

Total public sector expenditure in Northern Ireland grew significantly by 24.3% from 2006-07 to 2010-11.

A similar trend was recorded in the rest of the UK where total public sector expenditure grew by 25.7%.