Belfast Telegraph

£131m pledged for health and education in Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam and PA

Northern Ireland's £1bn deal from the DUP propping up the Conservatives in government comes on top of a £131m boost aimed primarily at health and education, the House of Commons has been told.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire divvied up the unspent departmental cash yesterday in the ongoing absence of Stormont ministers.

The province has now been without devolved government for six months with no sign of its resumption in sight.

But Mr Brokenshire told MPs: "The allocations do not include any of the financial support the UK Government would be prepared to make available to Northern Ireland following the agreement between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party."

The extra money includes £60.1m for health and £30m for education along with additional cash for infrastructure projects and the Department of Justice.

It comes from unspent departmental cash carried forward from last year's budget - Northern Ireland has no budget at present - as well as an increase from rates income and money saved by the long delay in the introduction of welfare reforms.

The money should help stave off several crises, including school principals and governors faced with cuts to their budgets and funding to cover NHS nurse training which had been threatened.

In the absence of ministers, civil servants have been taking decisions but Mr Brokenshire said the situation could not continue indefinitely. But he also made clear the Government will take action to prevent a public spending crisis if the Stormont Executive is not restored in the autumn.

The Government had ultimate responsibility to uphold political stability and good governance, he said, adding: "Accordingly, I reaffirm that the UK Government remains prepared to take forward legislation at Westminster to give authority for the expenditure of NI departments should an Executive not be restored in the autumn.

"If resolution continues to prove intractable beyond that point, we will take further steps to provide the necessary political decision-making in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


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