North’s £8.9bn budget approved by Westminster

Sum includes £410m from the DUP’s £1bn deal to prop up the Conservative Party

Stormont, seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Photograph: Eric Luke

Stormont, seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

A direct rule budget for Northern Ireland, which includes £410 million (€464 million) from the DUP’s £1 billion (€1.13 billion) deal to prop up the Conservative Party, has been given the green light by UK MPs in the House of Commons.

The budget, first published by the North’s Secretary of State Karen Bradley back in March, was debated late on Monday evening following a day of political drama and resignations in the UK.

Normally, the North’s budget bill is debated and then passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly by local ministers but because of the collapse of the Assembly and the Executive in January 2017 this has not been an option.

Instead Ms Bradley brought the Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill 2017-19 to be fast tracked through Westminster on Monday.

Minimal step

The Bill, described as “a minimal step to ensure that public services can continue to be provided in Northern Ireland for the full financial year”, had to be passed before July 31st and royal assent is also required before the beginning of parliament’s summer recess, which begins on July 24th.

The new legislation will now enable the Northern Ireland civil service, government departments and other public bodies to deliver public services for the financial year up to March 31st, 2019.

Northern Ireland will not receive any new money as a result of the bill but it authorises the Northern Ireland Department of Finance to allocate £8.9 billion (€10 billion) from the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund to government departments and to provide the possibility, if the fund runs low, to borrow up to £4.5 billion (€5 billion).