First glance at Budget…

GONE are the days when the threat of ‘Dublin interference’ in Northern Ireland’s internal affairs used to lead the DUP’s Peter Robinson to stage a cross-border invasion. These days, as Finance Minister, Mr Robinson is more than pleased to annouce the Irish Government’s £42 million contribution to Stormont’s ‘innovation funds’ – almost half the total. Another early Budget headline-grabber is the £205m over three years to build 5,250 social and affordable new houses – good news for the SDLP’s Social Development Minister, although it’s been reported that this is part of a DUP courtship of the party to “wrong foot the Ulster Unionists and to give the DUP increased room for manoeuvre”. Yesterday the UUP was pre-empting a ” tremendous victory” in winning additional resources for health and social care, and secured £30m in extra revenue (BBC) or an extra £57 million over three years (PA)… although the Health Minister had been asking for an additional £165m over three years. Maybe not that tremendous, compared to how the SDLP Minister did – but maybe that’s Robinson’s intention!

  • shankly’s socialism

    I am not so sure about this wrong footing idea, I do not see how it would work, care to enlighten with an example of how it might?

    The SDLP and the UUP seem to have both done well out of the consultation, the SDLP should and have done better because the allocation for social housing was so woefully low initially and it is an expensive process.

    McGimpsey already had a healthy budget, he just needed it bolstered and because its health a list of things we could not do as a result was compelling. I would imagine McGimpsey’s 165 million was pie in the sky negotiating tactic rather than an actual need.

    I think they have both done extremely well, and it is Robinson who has been forced to concede ground and go back on previous statements and policies.

    I am sure he does not mind too much, as after all he gets to deliver the good news, but I really cant imagine it is some sort of master plan.

  • kennedy’s stutter

    The UUP were clearly trying to paint the allocation to Health in a good light. Mind you – McGimpsey had already admitted himself that he had to scale back his bids to “a more realistic level” which does kinda indicate that even he believes his initial demands were by implication unrealistic. He’s also been given the (maybe not quite so visible publicly) slap down that if he wants to meet his targets then he has to actually get on with doing the job of reforming the Health Service (something he so far has stoutly refused to to).

    I think Gonzo has read the motivation a little wrong (no surprise there given the Alliance Party’s reaction to things) but Robinson on several occasions has been at pains to point out the collective nature of the Executive and about how problems in meeting targets in one Department are (up to a point) something the whole Executive should be concerned about. The line between the Executive being collectively responsible and individual Ministers having to actually run their own Departments will be an interesting one to watch.

  • Jane B

    I wouldn’t get too excited yet re the money for the new social housing just yet … there is the still the hurdle of the economists within DSD and DFP to contend with regarding ministerial direction over which new schemes should be supported.
    DFP has been reviewing an economic appraisal for the last seven months for the housing scheme in Belfast with no sign of its response … despite it already being picked over extensively by DSD economists for the previous six months.
    The money may be allocated, but there’s no guarantee it will be spent!
    Robinson may enjoy the spin of these headlines, but he’s yet to get his department in order to allow urban renewal to take place effectively.

  • old stylee Peter Robinson DUP

    Quick put a ring of steel on the border before the Republic’s money can cross!

  • pith

    The Department has a statement out stating that the budget is Northern Ireland’s most confident (yep, “most confident”) for decades.

    How many have there been?

  • ulsterfan

    What !!Dublin only giving us 42m.
    As a unionist I want more. Why should there be so much discrimination with the people of Galway or Cork getting so much more.
    Parity of the public purse is needed
    If I were Robinson I would throw it back in their faces. A miserly sum.

  • pith

    Is that £42 million for everybody or just the Clontibret raiders?

  • Robbo Fan

    Oh dear. All those bitter anti-DUP types on here having a good whinge. Simple truth is of course that Robinson’s budget is a masterful demonstration of how to best your opponents.

    McGimp, whose department turned in an underspend of £17 million and Ritchie (especially) now have no excuse whatsoever for failure to deliver within their departmental bailliwicks (not that they ever had any excuse anyway!).

  • More Statism – lapped up by those who just can’t get enough of it. The social housing scam is the most outrageous of all – be nice to our politicians and they will provide a nice house for you – care of the tax-payer.

    The idea that Chancellor Robinson has produced anything positive is risible but the only questions that will be asked here is why was there not even MORE public expenditure wasted.

  • shankly’s socialism

    @ Robbo Fan

    I hope I am not included in your ‘anti DUP camp’ I am simply pointing out a reality.

    Robinson made a budget of his own design and was adamant if it was to be changed, it had to be a relocation of money from other departments- his way or no way. he took criticism of the documents almost personally and was adamant and in the case of McGimpsey scathing in his criticism.

    Then given the possibility that the SDLP or UUP would vote against it (all it takes is one ‘no’ and he is screwed) he gave them an improvement on their budget – from where? “Oh look I appear to have found some other money after all” – Minister Robinson”

  • “a masterful demonstration of how to best your opponents.”

    Are you perchance thinking of the Mowlam modified 1998 Agreement?

    “9.34 Consequently, a key aim of transport development policy during the period of this Plan will be to improve infrastructure and integration within and between road and public transport


    networks, in both jurisdictions, so as to provide a more coherent and sustainable strategic transport network for the island as a whole. The objective will be the generation of a co-ordinated transport and logistics plan for the island in the context of East-West linkages to Britain and Europe, including strategic cross-border roads and Trans European Networks (TENS) routes. To that end, under the direction of the NSMC, the authorities in both jurisdictions will be working together to identify and promote joint projects within this important area.”

    Will Robbo be happy with some budget spending being at the whim of the NSMC? Might this have been why IPjr was looking for funding for the A26?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Robbo Fan, so we can equate besting the Minister for Social Development with giving her the money she wanted and needed?

  • lib2016

    I’m no fan of Robinson but he certainly appears to have delivered an agreed budget. Good for him and the rest of the Executive – one can only imagine the compromises people must have had to make.

  • After criticising Alliance for being negative towards the executive Robinson mentioned that no responce to the PFG/Budget showed where he could make cuts. I guess he didn’t read the Alliance’s response too carefully before dismissing it. The Alliance response named a number of area’s where cuts could be made including such measures such as cutting the number of departments, reducing the amount of public sector workers needed, and in practical terms reducing the changes of departments tripping over each other and being ineffective. There are a number of other measures suggested. I am informed that the Alliance response to the PFG will be available online in the next few days and when it is I’ll post a link in this thread.

  • pith

    Robbo fan,

    My son demanded a substantial increase in pocket money last week. I gave him more than he asked for. That showed him. He’s been a bit cheeky since though.

  • whatyoudotome

    Robbo Fan, so we can equate besting the Minister for Social Development with giving her the money she wanted and needed?

    I think that they have kissed and made up. Robbo gets to dish up some extra money to satisfy the Minister for Social Development and she in turn agrees to………what exactly?

    The answer lies within the Conflict Transformation Initiative ( anyone remember that can of worms?). For I understand that it is still running, still being financed and in fact is positively thriving.

  • IJP

    There is an issue here with the media response to all of this.

    To quote BBC NI: “Health was the big winner in the Budget… with an extra £10 million per year” – actually the DHSSPS Budget is over £4 billion, so £10 million is less than a quarter of one percent – peanuts, frankly.

    The real story is the Ulster Unionists are grabbing on to anything to justify their decision to stay in the Executive.


    Furthermore, the Alliance Party has not objected to closing schools with obviously declining numbers or to closing dilapidated leisure centres – measures which the DUP vehemently attacked us for!

    So the Alliance Party is very clear where the money can be taken from – in terms of better prioritised investment, better efficiencies (including tackling costs of division), and stopping wasting money on unnecessary buildings.