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Northern Ireland gets £20m from DUP/Tory £1bn deal as cash released for health and roads

By Jonathan Bell

The first millions of the DUP/Tory confidence and supply deal have been dished out as part of the latest redistribution of government funds.

The Department of Finance has released almost £115million including the first £20m from the DUP's £1bn deal with the Conservatives.

Health was the biggest winner with £54m going to the hospitals, while £26m was made available for education, and another £26million for roads and infrastructure.

A source within the department of health, however, told the Belfast Telegraph the money was non-recurring, "so doesn't greatly help health with the projected serious funding pressures in 2018/19".

The money has been distributed as a result of the Secretary of State having to introduce legislation from Westminster and as a result of adjustments in the Northern Ireland block grants following Chancellor Phillip Hammond's budget.

The money, Stormont officials said, would help ease pressures in schools and fix roads as well as addressing pay, waiting lists and winter pressures in the health service. Some of the money would also be spent on improving cyber security of hospital computer equipment. This follows after a mass cyber attack on NHS computer systems earlier this year.

Following the snap General Election early this year which saw the Conservative majority wiped out, the DUP brokered a deal with the party to allow Theresa May to operate a minority government.

There has been questions as to how the money would be released and if it was dependent on an Executive being in place.

The Department of Finance has now confirmed the first £20m has been released. Of it £15m will be provided to Department of Health and £5million to Department of Education.

A Department of Finance statement said: "A further Budget Bill and Supplementary Estimate will be required later in this financial year to provide departments with the legal authority to spend in line with these revised allocations. In particular, funding committed in the financial annex to the Confidence and Supply Agreement is subject to the full authorisation of the UK Parliament, as with all sums discharged from the UK Consolidated Fund, via the Estimates process in the New Year.

"The need to access the remaining £30million for health and education committed in the financial annex to the Confidence and Supply Agreement will be kept under review. A key consideration will be whether it would be best to propose accessing the funding in 2017/18 or 2018/19. Treasury have confirmed that any such unspent monies in 2017/18 can be re-profiled into 2018/19 on top of existing Budget Exchange arrangements."

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