As Members will be aware, the Executive agreed the October monitoring resource allocations on 9 October. I updated the Assembly on the outcome of this in my statement yesterday. The June monitoring round agreed resource departmental expenditure limit (DEL) reductions of £77·9 million, equating to 2·1%. An additional 2·3% reduction was required to meet the £87 million cost of not implementing welfare reform. This has now been agreed.
Through negotiations with Her Majesty's Treasury, I have secured access to the reserve in 2014-15 of up to £100 million. This has allowed the Executive to make allocations of £125 million to mitigate the worst impact of these reductions. However, this is far from an ideal solution. It is most unfortunate that the intransigence of some in the Executive has enforced the need to call upon the £100 million facility. This will make the 2015-16 Budget considerably more difficult because, in addition to having to cover £114 million of welfare reform savings lost to Treasury, we will now be faced with repaying an additional £100 million.That was the statement from the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Mr Simon Hamilton MLA after he was pressed on the ongoing budget pressures during Question time.
When asked what his Department's proposals for raising revenue under the current local fiscal arrangements are, the Minister had this to say:
In Budget 2011-15, the Executive agreed that the levels of domestic and non-domestic regional rates would be increased in line with inflation. For next year’s budget, my Department is working on the assumption that this policy will continue and that the level of the regional rate for the 2015-16 year will increase by the rate of inflation.The Minister also tackled questions on Welfare Reform and District Rates.
Topical questions to the Minister included: Empty Premises Relief; Financial Transactions Capital; Rates Convergence; Treasury Bailout; & County Hall, Ballymena.
You can read the full transcript on our website.