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£100m hole in Stormont finances ‘due to Brexit’


WARNING: Conor Murphy

WARNING: Conor Murphy

WARNING: Conor Murphy

Stormont coffers are more than £100m short as a direct result of Brexit, according to Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

Only around a fifth of the £70m expected to replace European Union Structural Funds is being received.

And cash allocated by the Executive to the Department for the Economy to maintain European Social Fund and Regional Development Fund programmes will not prove possible again.

“The gaps are not being met,” the Sinn Fein minister said. “Replacement funding to date has been inadequate.

“While we would have expected £70m per year from EU Structural Funds the only replacement in this financial year is the Community Renewal Fund which will provide only £12.36m.

“What meagre funding has been provided has been allocated through Whitehall departments, bypassing the Assembly and taking no account of our own local and regional plans and strategies.”

The £100m total is also made up of a £30m loss in farm funding yet the Executive is unable to apply to the new Community Renewal Fund.

Mr Murphy recently met the chief secretary of the Treasury Simon Clarke with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

Afterwards a note of the meeting said: “There is still a lack of information and guidance available and all three regions object to the spend being operated from Whitehall departments, which cuts across devolved responsibilities.”

Mr Murphy’s department said: “The £70m is our current best estimate for the annual impact of the loss of spending power and failure to replace EU Structural Funds.

“The £34m is the amount we will lose in farm funding over the next three years due to the UK Government netting off residual EU receipts against future allocations.

“It was made clear by the UK department operating the renewal fund that the Executive was not the intended target despite departments here having the power and responsibility to deliver on the objectives of the fund.

And Mr Murphy added: “I made an allocation of £42.5m to the Department for the Economy to enable them to extend their European Social Fund and Regional Development Fund programmes for an additional year. But given the huge pressures on our budget, this will not be possible in future years.”

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