Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced an additional £200 million for the health service to meet Covid pressures on hospitals, tackle waiting lists and fund a pay award for health workers.
The money comes from the £250 million October monitoring round allocations agreed by the Executive which also sees funding provided for Special Educational Needs, roads maintenance, and support for first-time taxi drivers.
Announcing the allocations, Minister Murphy said: “Covid has had a profound impact on our health service, compounding existing pressures and increasing waiting times for patients.
“Today I’m announcing an additional £200 million for the health service. £80 million will go towards addressing Covid-19 pressures on hospitals. Health staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, caring for patients in the most challenging of circumstances. £70m will be used to fund the health staff pay awards requested by the Department for Health. £30 million will be allocated to tackle waiting lists, and £15 million will support health trusts maintain service delivery against a backdrop of funding pressures and increasing costs. In recognition of the impact the pandemic has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing, £5 million has been allocated to expand the Mental Health Support Fund. This brings the Mental Health Support Fund, which has been heavily oversubscribed, up to £15m."
Minister Murphy continued: “£20.7 million is being allocated to the Department of Education. £7.7 million of this will support Special Educational Needs including asymptomatic testing, provision of Personal Protective Equipment and substitute cover.
“To assist the taxi sector which is experiencing a shortage of drivers, £500,000 is being provided to encourage new drivers to join the industry. As we go into the winter months, the £4 million bid roads maintenance and winter services such as gritting has been met in full.”
There was a total of £223 million of resource funding available for allocation, however with bids from Departments totalling £516 million, demand far outstripped available funding.
Highlighting the need to prioritise resources, Minister Murphy continued: “There are many competing demands on public spending and with bids totalling more than double the funding available, the Executive has had to prioritise. It isn’t possible to fund everything. As an Executive, we have collectively agreed that investment in the health service is paramount which is why almost 90% of the funding available is going to the Department of Health.”
Other allocations include:
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - £8.6 million – Covid-19 schemes and Rural Business Community Fund;
The Executive Office - £4.2 million – Social Investment Fund & Financial Transaction Capital Interest Pressure;
Department of Finance - £3 million – Localised Restrictions Support Scheme;
Department of Justice - £2 million – Safer Communities Programme (including the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking programme) and Legal Aid Costs; and
NI Assembly - £0.2 million – Members costs
Notes to editors:
- £223.6 million of Resource funding and £27.8 million of Capital funding has been allocated as part of the October monitoring round. The Written Ministerial Statement outlining full details of the allocations can be found at https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/october-2021-monitoring-round
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