Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 30th June 2020.
6. Mr Allen asked the Minister of Finance to outline the additional funding Northern Ireland has received from Barnett consequentials in the past 12 months. (AQO 513/17-22)
Over the last 12 months, and covering the two financial years 2019-2020 and 2020-21, the Executive has received Barnett consequentials of £847·6 million resource DEL, £152·3 million capital DEL and a reduction in the financial transactions capital of £57 million. This includes farm support payments of £278·6 million which replaces the EU common agriculture policy payments. In addition, the Executive has received Barnett consequentials of £1,442·2 million to address the impacts of COVID-19.
I thank the Minister for his answer, and for outlining the important additional funding received from the UK Government. The Minister will no doubt be aware of the additional £30 million announced in March — which seems like a long time ago — by the Chancellor for the Changing Places Fund for toilets.
I believe there is no Barnett consequential due for that fund. Can the Minister outline what engagement he has had with Executive colleagues, particularly the Minister for Communities, about setting up a similar fund for Northern Ireland?
I have engaged with all my Executive colleagues and we regularly have discussions. Much of the COVID money we received has been spent because we wanted to get support out to business. Obviously, our primary function has been ensuring that the health service was able to deal with a pandemic, business support and the protection for vulnerable people you are referring to. We have allocated quite a substantial proportion of the COVID-related Barnett consequentials to those three broad areas.
As late as yesterday, I continued to engage with my Executive colleagues, as part of the monitoring round and reprioritisation, to ensure that we have a collective view of what the priorities are going forward, and some COVID money was spent. Of course, we know there will always be many more bids for funding from the Departments than what is available to distribute to them. However, the Executive set itself priorities in those three key areas when we were responding to the pandemic. We are now moving into a phase of trying to emerge from the pandemic and ensure we kick-start the economy, continue to support vulnerable people and that the health service is able to do what it has to do. That discussion will therefore happen very frequently with all Ministers, individually and collectively, and we will ensure that, whatever they are, the Executive's priorities are met as best we can.
Members, we are ahead of schedule. There are only four listed questions remaining to be asked, so I will be taking further supplementary questions after the original questioners have had their opportunity.