Victims’ Payments Scheme: Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 18th October 2021.

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Photo of Ciara Ferguson Ciara Ferguson Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 18th October 2021

T7. Ms Ferguson asked the Minister of Finance, following his meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, for an update on funding for the victims’ payments scheme. (AQT 1697/17-22)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I met the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury in London last week. We have had an ongoing discussion and potential dispute with the Treasury on the funding. It is no secret that the Executive have an agreed position that the British Government, having developed the policy for the victims' payments, legislated for that and brought it through under their statement of funding policy and procedures, have a responsibility to fund it. To ensure that the scheme can get up and running and that victims are paid in the here and now, the Executive have agreed to cover the cost, but we reserve the right to press the Treasury to meet its obligations. I continue to do that. I had a good conversation with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury about that. The Treasury is in the middle of the spending review, and the outcome of that will be known at the end of the month. He has promised to come back to the matter very quickly on the other side of that, but we reserve the right to examine legal options if that dispute resolution process with the Treasury does not work.

Photo of Ciara Ferguson Ciara Ferguson Sinn Féin

Minister, did the Chief Secretary to the Treasury give any indication about what to expect from the spending review?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

No. Unfortunately, not. The Treasury always keeps its cards very close to its chest on those matters. They do not want us to make their announcements for them ahead of 27 October. We have no clarity, but we met the Treasury Minister, along with representatives from Scotland and Wales. We pressed him on a number of issues of common interest. Obviously, we hope for the best possible outcome from the spending review.