Northern Ireland shouldn’t pay to plug HM Treasury underfunding gaps: Gavin Robinson
Gavin Robinson was commenting after it was announced that a consultation will take place to assess the feasibility of introducing charges for a range of services that are currently provided free – including domestic water supply and drug prescriptions.
Mr Robinson said: “The Treasury contribution to fund public services in Northern Ireland is going down rather than rising. As an example, in England up to 2025, spending will increase by 6% but only 3.6% in Northern Ireland.
"We will oppose the Secretary of State taxing Northern Ireland more just to plug the gaps created by Treasury underfunding.
"Unless there is a recalibration of how Northern Ireland is funded, with or without an Executive, it will lead to our budgetary pressures getting worse. Public services in Northern Ireland will stall and get to a point where it is irretrievable.”
Mr Heaton-Harris, who will also review the level of the domestic and non-domestic regional rate, said generating revenue to balance the Stormont budget is a “critical necessity”.
However, Mr Robinson said: “Earlier this year, the Northern Ireland Fiscal Council found that current Northern Ireland definition of need is £124 per £100 spent in England. In 2022-23 we were underfunded by £322 million.
"In this year, 2023-24, we are underfunded by £341 million and in 2024-25, we will be underfunded by £458 million. This injustice is greatly compounded by our being required to pay back £297 million across this and the next financial year. Any revenue raised by the Secretary of State’s plans, would be negated by our underfunding gap increasing each year.”
The DUP deputy leader added: “When we confront the scale of the underfunding, the fact that Northern Ireland services are suffering is no surprise at all. It is affecting all aspects of life, from SEN funding to childcare provision, which a recent report by the campaign group Melted Parents NI shows is more expensive in Northern Ireland than any other part of the United Kingdom.”