Civil Service to draw down first £20m of DUP-Tory pact cash

The first payout from the DUP's £1bn deal with the Conservative Party is on its way to Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

James Brokenshire said the first £50m of the £1bn is available for the 2017-18 financial year
James Brokenshire said the first £50m of the £1bn is available for the 2017-18 financial year

The NI Civil Service plans to draw down £20m from the Treasury to be used in this financial year.

Of that figure, £15m will be used to ease pressures in the health service. The other £5m will be given to education.

The money is included in a total of almost £115m being reallocated by the Department of Finance to help ease pressure on areas such as health and education.

The distribution of extra cash will see £54m pumped into health in 2017/18, while £26m will be made available for education, and another £26m for roads and infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State James Brokenshire said the first £50m of the £1bn agreed under the DUP-Tory pact would be made available in the financial year 2017/18.

While the Department of Finance has only requested £20m from that sum, it has said the need to access the remaining £30m will be “kept under review”.

A spokesperson stated: “A key consideration will be whether it would be best to propose accessing the funding in 2017/18 or 2018/19.”

The Treasury has confirmed that any of the unspent £30m can be carried over into the next financial year.

UUP MLA Roy Beggs said the decision to only request £20m of an available £50m to help deal with pressures in health and education would require “further explanation”.

He added: “Is it a case that this is still an administration that can’t spend the money it’s given?

“Our health service needs certainty and that will not come without a minister at the helm taking decisions.”