29/01/2003

£69m reallocated from departmental savings

NIO Trade Minister, Ian Pearson has today announced the re-distribution of millions of pounds of savings garnered from within departmental programmes in 2002-03.

The Minister emphasised that this is not new money, but represents adjustments made within Northern Ireland’s own budget resources on the basis of need.

Among the £69 million funds to be re-distributed, £3.4 million has been allocated to facilitate the transition between the EU Peace I and II Programmes. At this stage of the financial year, there is only limited scope for new commitments but, said Mr Pearson, "we are making the best possible use of the amounts now available".

"While the amounts are significant, it is important to recognise that they represent the re-allocation of our own resources in the light of new and emerging information," he said.

He explained that a total of £95 million was available for re-allocation at this time, with £69 million to be allocated now, and £26 million to be carried over into 2003-2004. The available resources arise mainly from savings within departments. Significant items available for re-allocation are:
  • £16.7 million from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment because the amounts required for financial assistance to businesses have turned out to be lower than had been provided
  • £12.7 million from the Department of Education as a result of the accounting treatment of certain elements of the Classroom 2000 project. This is a technical issue of timing, because the costs will now arise – and be covered - in future years
  • £7.4 million from the Assembly, arising from reduced costs following suspension.
In the previous Monitoring Round, concluded prior to the suspension of devolution, the Executive agreed that some £80 million of under-spending should be anticipated in setting revised allocations for the remaining months of this financial year.

Commenting on the pattern of spending, Mr Pearson said: "The reallocation of £69 million will cover some routine additional costs that have been sought for services and we have ensured that these resources are deployed to the best possible uses, most of which are routine necessities.

"However, it is not possible to make substantial increases in services at this stage of the year. Hence the balance of some £26 million will have the effect that the carry over into 2003-04 will be that much larger than would otherwise have been the case.

"The steps taken by the Executive before suspension and since then under our direction have made sure that we are using the spending power as fully as possible to provide services to the public."

(GMcG)

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