To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps he is taking to ensure the continuation of Easilink bus services in rural areas in Northern Ireland in the next financial year.
Transport is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. The Department for Infrastructure has the responsibility for matters relating to the provision of rural community transport services in Northern Ireland.
In the absence of functioning devolved institutions, Northern Ireland Office officials are working with their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Executive Department of Finance on the budget allocations for the next financial year. Based on the Northern Ireland budget position for the 2022-23 financial year, the expectation is that there will be impacts on people in Northern Ireland as a result of the difficult decisions needed in order for Northern Ireland Executive departments to live within their budgets.
It remains the UK Government’s firm view that the right people to make these decisions are locally elected politicians in a fully functioning Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly. In the absence of these, it will be for the relevant Northern Ireland Executive department, in this case, the Department for Infrastructure, to manage its funding including provision for rural community transport.