N. Ireland Politics

Stormont budget: Arlene Foster to meet Greg Hands

Arlene Foster
Image caption Mrs Foster will also brief Stormont's finance committee on Wednesday on her plans to introduce a so-called phantom budget

Finance Minister Arlene Foster is due to meet Treasury Minister Greg Hands to discuss Stormont's budget problems.

The failure to implement the Stormont House Agreement means the executive's finances are under pressure.

Mrs Foster will also brief Stormont's finance committee on her plans to introduce a so-called phantom budget.

It assumes the financial resources agreed at Stormont House are available, even though that is not currently the case.

The committee is expected to decide whether to give the Budget Bill 'accelerated passage' meaning it can pass all its stages in as little as 10 days.

Devolved

If the bill is passed it will mean an end to the immediate prospect of a civil servant having to take control of Stormont's budget.

However, as £600m of resources agreed at Stormont House are not actually available a budget crisis could blow up again later in the year.

On Tuesday, Chancellor George Osborne said it was not acceptable for any one devolved administration to breach the spending limits agreed with the UK government.

Answering a question from the DUP's Sammy Wilson, Mr Osborne said such a move by Stormont was something the UK government would have to address.

The chancellor said the government expected all the Northern Ireland parties, including Sinn Féin, to implement the Stormont House Agreement.

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