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DUP delegates meet Civil Service boss over £1bn Budget windfall

 

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Civil Service chief: David Sterling

Civil Service chief: David Sterling

Civil Service chief: David Sterling

Three DUP MPs are due to meet Civil Service boss David Sterling to discuss the allocation of Northern Ireland's £1bn boost from the Budget.

Nigel Dodds, the party's Westminster leader, Gavin Robinson and Emma Little-Pengelly said they would use this week's meeting to ensure that various measures - including support for small businesses, high street regeneration and investment in mental health provision - are rolled out across the region.

In a joint statement, the DUP MPs said the almost £1bn allocated to Northern Ireland was additional spending on top of the £1bn Confidence and Supply Agreement.

"We are committed to ensuring the ambitious announcements made in the Budget are introduced in Northern Ireland given the transformative impact they could have," they said.

"Our small business sector is the backbone of our economy and it is vital that they benefit from the Rates Relief Scheme announced by the Chancellor.

"At a point when our high streets face uncertain times, the Future High Street Fund will provide redevelopment opportunities across Northern Ireland to support and boost our retail sector."

The DUP said the major investment announced by the Chancellor in mental health "provides Northern Ireland with the opportunity to develop greater service provision".

"Mental health is a top priority of the DUP and that is why we secured an additional £50m in our C&S Agreement," they said.

"We will be pushing strongly for the Civil Service to introduce similar measures in Northern Ireland."

They added that Executive departments also have "an important role to play in other announcements we secured in the budget" adding that it is imperative for them to "allocate the necessary resources to deliver this once in a generation opportunity".

"In relation to the Belfast City Centre Relief Fund, it is incumbent upon Executive departments to make a financial contribution to support the £2m we delivered from the Treasury," they said.

"We will be pressing hard that further support is offered to our city centre.

"The record level of investment we secured for the Belfast Region City Deal was a great start to the overall funding package.

"Local councils, the private sector and our universities have all stepped up to the mark to support the £1bn deal."

Mr Hammond said the measures contained in his Budget will mean additional spending of £320m for Northern Ireland government departments.

The Treasury will also put £350m into a 15-year investment plan for the Belfast region, known as a city deal, while a one-off £2m payment to help Belfast city centre recover from the major fire in August was also promised.

An additional £300m was pledged for integrated and shared education initiatives.

Earlier this month, the DUP said that it was prepared to block the Budget and potentially topple Prime Minister Theresa May if the party did not receive sufficient reassurances that there would be no Irish Sea border post-Brexit.

Belfast Telegraph