Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has set out the Executive’s 2021/22 Budget. Over half a billion of Covid funding will support economic recovery. Support for children and young people is also a focus of the budget.
Commenting on the 2021-2022 Budget which includes £13 billion of Resource funding and £1.78 billion of Capital funding, Conor Murphy said: “Covid has presented massive challenges but the vaccination programme has been hugely successful and we hope we can soon move towards economic recovery. I have allocated significant funding for an economic stimulus and have also prioritised funding to support young people given the huge impact that Covid has had on their wellbeing.”
Despite being provided with a standstill budget by Westminster, the flexibility the Finance Minister negotiated with the Treasury has allowed a significant level of funding to be carried over into next year. The final budget therefore represents an improvement on the draft budget published in January with further allocations across a range of areas.
Setting out the Budget priorities, Minister Murphy added: “Covid-19 is still putting the health service under tremendous pressure. Over £430 million of additional Covid funding is being made available for the health service with an additional £20 million to increase the number of nurses to support safe staffing. A further £100 million is being held for allocation early in the new financial year pending an assessment of the Health Department’s requirements.
“This year the Executive provided unprecedented support to sustain businesses and the jobs they provide. We hope to soon be in a position to ease those restrictions and move towards economic recovery. I have allocated £286 million to fully fund the Economic Recovery Action Plan. This includes £145 million for the High Street Stimulus Scheme which will encourage spend in local towns and city centres. £230 million of additional business rates relief is being provided for the full year rate holiday.
“£81 million of Covid funding is being held centrally to enable LRSS and CRBSS to continue.
“Recognising the need for an injection of capital to kick start economic recovery the Executive has borrowed to increase the capital budget to £1.78 billion. Of this, £162.5m has been allocated to new social housing.”
Outlining support for children and young people, Conor Murphy added: “The last year has been incredibly tough for children and young people. We are determined to ensure they are fully supported.
“Almost £100 million will fund a range of measures including nearly £45 million to support children and teachers as they transition back into full time schools based learning. £20 million for the Jobstart programme which will create job opportunities for those aged 16 to 24 at risk of long-term unemployment. £17 million will fund the Engage Programme to help address the impact of Covid-19 on learning, £9 million will fund summer programme provision, and over £2 million is for the Sure Start programme.”
On supporting vulnerable people, Minister Murphy added: “Almost £25 million will support the Benefit Delivery Response providing financial assistance to the most vulnerable in society. This is on top of the £42.8 million to continue welfare mitigations.
“Over £9 million will support initiatives tackling homelessness with £6 million going towards the Supporting People programme to enable vulnerable people to live independently in the community.”
Concluding Minister Murphy said: “Carrying forward Covid funding into next year has enabled us to invest over £1.1 billion to deliver for workers and families while supporting the health service and the most vulnerable in our society.”
Other Budget allocations include:
£100m capital for NI Water;
£20m for Casement;
£12.3 million to increase police numbers
£12.0 million for Shared Future Programmes;
£5 million market support for the agri-food sector;
£2 million for Green Recovery;
£2 million for Covid public information campaign;
£0.9 million for City of Derry Airport; and
£0.2 million for Translation Hub.