Issue of sum out of the Consolidated Fund for the year ending 31 March 2020 and appropriation of that sum

Part of Northern Ireland Budget Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 5:50 pm, 30th October 2019

In speaking to clause 1 stand part, I will also try to address very briefly the issue of housing associations, which I did not have time to do in my closing speech on Second Reading.

Clause 1 authorises the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland the sum of just over £5.3 billion. The allocation levels for each Northern Ireland Department and the other bodies in receipt of these funds are set out in schedule 1, which also states the purpose for which the funds are to be used. The authorisations and appropriations in this clause are a balance to complete in addition to the vote on account previously authorised in section 4 and in column 2 of schedule 3 of the Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) Act 2019.

I will now address the issue of housing associations out of respect to previous comments made. The Government, to be very clear, recognise the absolute importance of housing associations as the main mechanism for delivery of social and affordable homes. We agree 100% that classification as public sector has serious implications for their funding stream, for the reasons cited in the debate. We completely agree, therefore, that action must be taken, and the Government are committed to taking forward legislation to facilitate reclassification as soon as parliamentary time allows. I hope that Gavin Robinson will realise that standing here today on the brink of an election I do not feel I can give a guarantee of a specific time, but I can say that this will be a priority for this Government, if re-elected, and that officials are continuing to work closely with officials in Northern Ireland to facilitate it.