The Finance Minister is currently presenting a revised NI Executive Budget to the NI Assembly, after consulting on the Draft Budget and the availability of some additional funds through Barnett Consequentials and non-use during the current financial year. This follows on from and is complementary to our analysis of the Draft Budget.
Figures apply only to Current Resource spending except where specified.
The Executive is promoting an “extra allocation” of £150 million for Resource spending – around 1.5% extra.
The “extra” money comes from:
- an allocation by the UK Treasury through Barnett consequentials (most obviously from the £1.7b increase in NHS spending for 2015/16) – £79m;
- money not used to mitigate welfare reform – £43.1m; and
- reduced requirements identified in monitoring rounds – £30.5m (although other pressures see this effectively reduced to £28.1m).
This is below £150m, and the latter strictly applies to 2014/15 not 2015/16, but there are also some helpful sundries including £10.7m from the revaluation of public sector pension schemes, £5.9m reduction in interest repayments, and £1.3 in increased rates revenue (although there are is also an overcommitment of £4.4m to address in the current financial year, and some other minor negatives).
This, plus the ability to use Capital funds to pay back loans and welfare deductions to the UK Treasury, is sufficient to mean that total Current Resource Spending will be only £60m lower in 2015/16 than 2014/15 (assuming that the NI Executive is allowed to keep an unallocated £13.9m to run over).
There is also an allocation of £18.7m which had not previously been agreed for European projects, and some re-adjustment on the capital side which does not affect current resource spending directly.
The term “extra” is used in the sense that no Department will lose out versus its position in the Draft Budget. The extra money will be allocation additionally to that.
Executive Change Fund
The Minister’s Statement also includes the allocation of £30 million held in the “Executive Change Fund”, held aside as money to be bid for for “innovative reform” by Departments.
Health receives no “extra” money. It receives £4 million (c. 13%) of the “Executive Change Fund” allocation – much lower than its share of the overall Draft Current Resource Budget of 47%.
Some concern is hinted at concerning the “performance” of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in managing its budget.
Education does well, receiving almost half the “extra” allocation (£63m), an increase of 3.4%. It also receives £1.4m from the “Executive Change Fund”, much less significant.
Policing receives an extra £20m, which means the overall spend on Justice rises 2%.
Enterprise had already done well from the Draft Budget, and an extra £3m goes directly to Invest NI.
Employment and Learning, which is likely to merge with Enterprise at the end of the financial year, receives the biggest share uplift at 5% (£33.2m), although this is against a very unfavourable initial allocation.
Other Departments receive extra allocations of up to £5 million. Another £5 million is set aside for a “Social Investment Fund”.
No revenue raising applies. The average household in Northern Ireland will pay £812 in “household taxes” and zero extra for water (versus £1322 in Scotland, £1433 in England and £1613 in Wales where water delivery is charged extra).