Northern Ireland

Stormont departments 'facing £410m spending pressures'

Steve Aiken
Image caption Steve Aiken said the parties only received limited information

Stormont departments are facing spending pressures of up to £410m in the next financial year, the UUP has claimed.

Pressures do not necessarily mean cuts of the same amount, as funds can be reallocated between departments, or planned polices can be delayed.

Northern Ireland's political parties were briefed on the budget on Tuesday.

The budget process is being led by civil servants in the absence of Stormont ministers.

Ulster Unionist finance spokesperson Steve Aiken said the parties only received limited information.

"It is regrettable that the paucity of information given means that the political parties, as well as the public, have little information on which to decide whether Northern Ireland is being efficiently managed or not," he said.

"It is now three years since the then finance minister failed to provide a budget, and despite the so-called Confidence and Supply money, we are still looking at major shortfall in next year's finances."

Another political source said the budget process also assumes that £320m of efficiency saving can be found.

It is possible the financial position could improve following the chancellor's spring statement next month.

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