Muir: Spending shows scale of challenges that lie ahead

Health Paula Bradshaw Andrew Muir Finance

Alliance Finance Spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said the latest spending figures from the Department show the scale of challenges that lie ahead for the Executive.

Mr Muir was speaking after the June Monitoring round was announced, in which the Finance Minister set out the money available to departments arising primarily from underspends last year, and how this would be allocated.

He said: “I welcome this publication today that shows that last year departments were able to limit their underspend to an amount that was allowed to be carried over to spend this financial year. It is extremely important that money that can be used to support people in Northern Ireland is not handed back to the Treasury.

“While we welcome some of the allocations announced today, particular the additional money identified for Special Education Needs (SEN), public services generally will remain under severe pressure. For day to day spending, there were £341m in bids from departments for £149m of available funds. Meanwhile, for capital (investment) spending, there only £61m worth of bids for £91m of funding.”

“This shows that departments are struggling to meet day to day priorities, while simultaneously don’t have the capacity to spend additional investment funding. As long as this situation continues, our public services will face the twin problems of underfunding and underinvestment”.

Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw added: “Our health service was in dire need before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, so we urgently need to start dealing with the backlog of those in need. Money to ease pressures in Elective Care is welcome news today to many on waiting lists beginning to give up hope that their problems will ever be addressed.”