Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:30 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Maeve McLaughlin Maeve McLaughlin Sinn Féin 7:30 pm, 9th February 2016

Go raibh maith agat, a Phríomh-LeasCheann Comhairle. I welcome the opportunity to address the House as Chair of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and to contribute to this debate. I wish to make a number of points, and maybe develop a number of points flowing from the spring Estimates debate last evening. Looking at the Budget, and it has been mentioned by colleagues, the Executive have allocated the Department of Health £128 million additional to its 2015-16 position, and that is very welcome news, right across the services sector and the wider constituency.

There are, however, ongoing cost pressures, which have been referred to. Costs continue to rise each year, and they are running roughly at about 5% to 6%. Typically, they are linked to pay and non-pay inflation. Obviously, they are linked to meeting the healthcare needs of an ageing population and continuing developments in technologies and treatments. That trend is expected to continue as we move forward into 2016-17 and beyond. In order to meet those pressures and supplement the baseline budget allocation, the Department is attempting to identify savings from trusts. It is attempting to look at other arm's-length bodies and its own administration costs, and that is an important point. From what we have heard, that will prove difficult, given the savings that it has already attempted to make in previous years.