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Inescapable Financial Pressures

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance and Personnel – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Samuel Gardiner Samuel Gardiner UUP 3:00 pm, 13th October 2015

9. Mr Gardiner asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the level of inescapable financial pressures facing the Executive. (AQO 8875/11-16)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Departments have registered pressures in the June monitoring round of £234·6 million on resource departmental expenditure limits (DEL) and £327·1 million on capital DEL. A recent high-level assessment by my officials indicates that over £100 million of these pressures are inescapable.

In addition to departmental pressures, failure to implement welfare reform has put at risk the budgetary flexibilities negotiated in the Stormont House Agreement, which included flexibility to repay the £100 million reserve claim in 2014-15 and the £114 million reduction to our Budget for non-implementation of welfare reform from capital budgets.

Photo of Samuel Gardiner Samuel Gardiner UUP

I thank the Minister for her information. She has even replied to what I was going to put to her in my supplementary question, so I do thank the Minister for that.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

How is inescapable pressure defined, and how does her Department scrutinise such bids from other Departments?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

As you can imagine, we have to go into quite some detail with accounting officers to find out which bids are speculative as opposed to contractual. That is the element — whether Departments are contractually obliged to deliver on particular issues — that we really look at. After that exercise, as I have indicated, we believe that the inescapable pressures, not the things that it would be nice to do, or good to do, would be in and around £100 million.