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Secretary of State introduces budget bill for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Budget (No.2) Bill introduced in the House of Commons

The Northern Ireland Budget (No.2) Bill has today (Thursday 29 June) been introduced in the House of Commons, beginning the legislative process of confirming a budget for Northern Ireland for 2023-24 in the continued absence of the Northern Ireland Executive.

It follows the Written Statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, on 27 April, which set out the Northern Ireland departmental budget allocations for the current financial year.

The legislation will place the budget allocations on a statutory footing and will mean Northern Ireland departments have a total resource budget available of £14.2bn and capital budget of £2.2bn - this includes the Northern Ireland Executive block grant and income from regional rates.

As part of this, the Department of Health will receive a total allocation of £7.3 billion, an increase of £20 million above 2022-23. Meanwhile, the Department of Infrastructure will receive a total allocation of £523 million, an increase of £2 million above the 2022-23 budget.

Earlier this month, the Secretary of State wrote to the Permanent Secretaries of all Northern Ireland Civil Service departments using new powers provided through the Northern Ireland (Interim Arrangements) Act 2023 to request information and advice on a range of measures that could generate further public revenue locally, or otherwise improve the sustainability of public finances in Northern Ireland. The first set of information and advice is due back this week. The decisions required to live within this budget continue to rest with the Northern Ireland departments.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“I am deeply disappointed to, once again, be legislating for a budget for Northern Ireland in the absence of an Executive.

“It should not be me or the Northern Ireland Permanent Secretaries making these decisions, but locally-elected politicians.

“The political stalemate continues to paralyse long-neglected strategic decision making to place public finances on a sustainable footing. This has resulted in tough decisions having to be made in this budget to balance the books, but we have prioritised the front line public services that people rely on.

“I impress again on the Northern Ireland parties the need to get back into an Executive as soon as possible so that spending decisions flowing from the budget allocations can be taken by the politicians that the local people have elected to do so.”

Since 2014, the UK Government has provided around £7 billion in additional funding to Northern Ireland on top of the Barnett-based block grant.

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