Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today unveiled the Executive’s Draft Budget which prioritises health and social care.
A 12 week consultation period on the proposals set out in the draft Budget will commence on Monday 13 December giving the public the opportunity to have their say.
Announcing the Draft 2022-2025 Budget, Minister Murphy said: “The Executive has previously committed to prioritising health and bringing down waiting lists. Therefore the draft Budget proposes prioritising health by providing additional resources to ensure the bids for the Elective Care (waiting lists), Cancer and Mental Health rebuild strategies are met in full. A health budget of £21 billion over the next three years provides a long-awaited opportunity for long-term planning, reforming service delivery, and tackling waiting lists on a sustainable basis.”
The Department of Health would see their budget increase by over 10% by the end of the budget period, when compared to the 2021-22 published budget position.
Minister Murphy continued: “The additional investment in health inevitably creates challenges for other public services. This draft Budget therefore underlines our commitment to prioritise health.”
Turning to rates, Minister Murphy said: “Given high energy costs and the general cost of living crisis, regional rates will be frozen for businesses and households. The draft Budget is also proposing a £50 million rates support package for businesses in 2022-23. As Covid has impacted on all sectors of the economy, the proposed package would provide a one month rates holiday to all businesses with the exception of utilities and larger food stores and a three months rates holiday for retail, tourism, hospitality, leisure, childcare and airports which are the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.
“To help tackle vacant properties in high streets the Back in Business scheme will be re-introduced on a more generous basis providing businesses occupying a vacant retail property with 24 months rates relief instead of 12.”
The first set of projects to be funded under the Executive’s City/Growth Deals Complementary fund has also been agreed as part of the draft Budget. Announcing these, Conor Murphy said: “I’m delighted to announce that £52 million is being allocated to projects under the Executive’s Complementary Fund. These projects will provide a capital injection right across the North. This will see investment in local communities, support for businesses and development of our local environment to provide much needed green space for citizens.”
Projects which will be funded under the Complementary Fund include:
- Development of a 15 acre parkland and open space at Albert Basin Park, Newry – £16.2 million
- A hydrogen innovation centre, Ballymena – £15 million
- Establishment of an Industrial Development Challenge Fund to help close the productivity gap by providing support to businesses for product improving technology and innovation Mid-South West Region – £7.5 million
- Development of a multi-use recreational and environmental facility at Whitespots Country Park, Bangor – £7.4 million
- Establishment of a Digital Transformation Fund to support small businesses to help address the cost barriers of digitisation – £6 million
Encouraging people to respond to the Draft Budget consultation when it opens on Monday, the Minister concluded: “With a three year budget it’s vital that people get involved and have their say. My Department will be undertaking engagement sessions in the coming months and I would encourage citizens, communities and businesses to have their voices heard.”
The draft 2022-2025 Budget sets out proposed Departmental allocations as follows:
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – £1.69bn Resource DEL and £327.0m Capital
Department for Communities – £2.52bn Resource DEL and £630.9m Capital
Department for Economy – £2.52bn and £581.9m Capital
Department of Education – £7.41bn Resource DEL and £620.9m Capital
Department of Health – £20.84bn Resource DEL and £1.09bn Capital
Department of Finance – £0.51bn Resource DEL and £104.9m Capital
Department for Infrastructure – £1.34bn Resource DEL and £2.41bn Capital
Department of Justice – £3.37bn Resource DEL and £353.4m Capital
The Executive Office – £0.67bn Resource DEL and £44.9m Capital