N. Ireland Politics

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure cuts revealed

The magnitude of the spending cuts facing Stormont departments has begun to become clear.

The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) said it has been told to make cuts of more than 17% over the next four years.

Officials told the DCAL committee that this would hit frontline services.

About 30% of DCAL's budget is dedicated to libraries while 20% is spent on museums.

A DCAL spokesperson said that the department "had to make a saving of 17.2% over the four year period".

SDLP Finance spokesperson Declan O'Loan MLA said a four-year programme of savings being proposed for the department "amount to little more than a series of top-down, across-the-board cuts".

On Tuesday, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action warned that public spending cuts cuts could amount to £2bn over the next four years.

NICVA's Seamus McAleavey said officials from Executive departments had indicated to him previous estimates of the cuts were too conservative.

He said government capital expenditure is likely to fall by 40%.

This would mean less money being spent on the likes of schools, hospitals and infrastructure, he said.

"That will affect almost everyone in Northern Ireland, that will work its way through the system."

At the end of June, Chancellor George Osborne's first budget detailed a package of tax increases and spending cuts which aims to cut the UK's £155bn deficit.

The Northern Ireland Executive was told in May it must save an extra £128m on top of £393m other savings this year.

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