More than £400m of the £1bn the Democratic Unionist party extracted from the Conservatives to prop up Theresa May’s government has been added to a new budget for Northern Ireland.
Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, set out on Thursday the areas in which the extra cash from the confidence and supply arrangement will be spent.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, Bradley said there would be:
- £200m extra for capital spending on key infrastructure projects
- £100m for the long-term transformation of the health service
- £80m to help relieve health and education pressures
- £30m to support programmes addressing issues of mental health and severe deprivation
Bradley also said that domestic rates would rise by 4.5%, because it was “necessary and important” to continue to run vital public services, particularly health and education. By contrast, business rates would only be raised by 1.5% in order to help the private sector in Northern Ireland.
The funding boost includes £30m to support mental health and wellbeing projects. Last month it emerged that more people had killed themselves in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years than died in more than a quarter of century of violence during the Troubles. The region has one of the worst outcomes for mental health issues in the UK.
The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, welcomed the release of the latest tranche of confidence and supply money. “Having called for a budget to be passed at Westminster, we welcome the secretary of state’s necessary intervention to give departments certainty and fund public services for the next financial year,” she said.
“This budget contains £410m secured by the DUP as part of our confidence and supply agreement. Cynics doubted the C&S money would ever be delivered, but today it has helped achieve an improved budget compared to the one that many feared.”
Sinn Féin’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, said the budget contained only “stop-gap” measures. “This is a disappointing budget which doesn’t provide the resources needed for the public services our people need and deserve,” she said. “It’s not good for householders, for victims, for health, for our economy, our colleges or the homeless.”