British government puts forward budget for Northern Ireland

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley said action is needed to "meet urgent pressures in health and education"

British government puts forward budget for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley. Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

The British government has put forward a budget for Northern Ireland, amid the ongoing failure by parties in the North to reach a new power-sharing deal.

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley has unveiled a £12 billion (€13.5 billion) spending plan.

It's the second time the British government has imposed a budget for the region since the devolved institutions collapsed in January last year.

In a statement, Mrs Bradley said: "In the absence of local Ministers, and given the proximity of the next financial year, it would not be appropriate for the UK Government to seek to take fundamental decisions about service delivery and transformation at this time.

"Yet we must act to secure public services and enable NI departments to meet urgent pressures in health and education. That is what this budget settlement will do, by protecting and preserving public services within challenging fiscal constraints."

The budget includes £410 million (€460 million) in financial support, which the British government says has arisen as a result of the confidence and supply agreement between the Conservatives and DUP.

The agreement was reached between the two parties to allow Theresa May form a minority government after a disastrous general election result for the Conservatives last year.

Speaking about today's budget, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "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."

Earlier, Mrs Foster said in a speech in London that she believes there is 'little prospect' of an Executive being formed in the North in the next few months. 

Sinn Féin and the DUP have failed to reach an agreement following the Stormont elections last March.

The Executive collapsed in January 2017, amid a scandal over a botched renewable heat scheme.