Northern Ireland Budget 2019-20 announced

Date published: 28 February 2019

The Secretary of State has today published the Northern Ireland 2019-20 Budget which will allow departments to plan for the incoming financial year.

The combined effect of additional funding and flexibilities, together with anticipated in year monitoring allocations and the delivery of savings during 2019-20 will enable departments to further protect and preserve key services.

The Budget is supported by a range of funding and flexibilities provided by the UK Government.  This includes:

  • £140 million of new funding, in recognition of the lack of opportunity for more fundamental service reconfiguration
  • £333 million of funding from the Confidence and Supply agreement which provides £100 million in support of health transformation, £30 million for mental health and severe deprivation, £3 million for broadband and £200 million for capital spending on key infrastructure projects.
  • Agreement to £130 million of existing funding normally ring-fenced for capital to be invested in ongoing public service provision.
  • Allowing up to £85 million resource and £8 million capital funding from 2018-19 to be carried forward - this is in excess of the amounts normally permitted under the Budget Exchange Scheme. 

An additional £28.6 million will be generated through increases of 3% above inflation in the domestic regional rate while non-domestic rates will increase by inflation only.  This will help to fund key public services.

In particular this Budget will:

  • Provide an increase of 3.8 % for the Department of Health against comparable actual funding levels in 2018-19 which included in year monitoring allocations.  While challenges still remain due to cost pressures increasing at a higher rate this will allow the department to preserve key services, prioritise patient safety and support HSC staff in providing the best possible care. The capital allocation for the Department of Health will also enable delivery of significant investment in health and social care facilities across Northern Ireland including the flagship Maternity and Children’s Hospital and the Fire and Rescue Service regional training facility at Desertcreat. £100 million of funding from the financial annex to the Confidence and Supply Agreement will also be invested in Healthcare transformation and;
  • Provide an increase of 1.1% for the Department of Education against the comparable actual funding in 2018-19 which included in year monitoring allocations. Although the pressures on school budgets are widely recognised, the funding of schools will continue to be prioritised in 2019-20. As a result of the £16.5million allocation for severe deprivation from  the Confidence and Supply Agreement, there will be financial assistance towards meeting existing severe deprivation pressures in the areas of Sure Start, Nurture Units, Pathway Funding, Numeracy and Literacy and Extended Schools.

Two areas where new cross-cutting costs have arisen are in relation to exiting the EU and Pension employer costs. 

£20.4 million of additional funding has been allocated for EU exit costs which was provided as part of the £2billion from the UK Government to support departments and devolved administrations in either a deal or no deal scenario.

Also included in the Department of Justice’s budget allocation is a further £16.5 million for the Police Service of Northern Ireland for EU Exit preparations in recognition of specific and unique circumstances in Northern Ireland.

Over £180 million has been included in departmental budget allocations for increased employer pension costs across the public sector. While this does not address the full level of pressures identified by departments it does represent a significant contribution towards them. Any remaining pressures will be reviewed in-year.

The financial constraints facing departments reinforces the need for departments and the wider public sector to work collaboratively to achieve outcomes for all. In a similar approach to 2018-19, this Budget also sets aside £4 million to assist departments in transforming how they deliver services.

Detailed tables showing how the budget for 2019-20 has changed against a comparable assessment for 2018-19 are available at

https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-budget-2019-20

Notes to editors: 

1. The Northern Ireland Spring Supplementary Estimates for 2018-19 are introduced today.  These reflect changes to the Secretary of State’s March 2018 Budget position which have been determined through the in-year monitoring process. Details of in-year allocations were previously published in November 2018. The allocations arising from the final monitoring round of the year are available at: https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dfp/Public%20Expenditure_2018-19_%20In-Year_Final_Monitoring_Allocations_0.pdf

2. Now that departments have certainty about their funding position for 2019-20, further budgetary planning and analysis will be taken forward to develop and implement more detailed spending plans. The Budget will be enacted in legislation in due course. 

3. All media queries to Department of Finance Press Office on 028 90816 895 or 028 90816 724. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 90 378110 and your call will be returned.

4. Follow us on Twitter @dptfinance

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