Chronic underfunding is greatest threat to stability in Northern Ireland

DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has said it is unacceptable that public services could continue to be short-changed until 2035 because of the Government’s failure to deliver fair funding for Northern Ireland.

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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Commenting after the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster published a report into the funding of frontline services in our Province, Carla said:

‘‘The DUP has been clear that the Government’s financial package does not go far enough toward ensuring that our vital public services are funded on the basis of assessed need.

Northern Ireland was underfunded in each of the last two financial years. If a proper fiscal floor been in place during that period, this would have resulted in more than half a billion pounds extra being provided to our Departments annually.

The Treasury has since accepted that spending for comparable services in Northern Ireland should not drop below £124 for every £100 in England. However it has failed to apply this uplift as if it had already been in place. That means our hospitals, schools and roads lose out on hundreds of millions of pounds to which they were, and are, entitled.

To add insult to injury, the Government is now demanding that the Executive repay the overspend from the last two years - which would never have been incurred had our funding matched need - unless ministers levy new taxes on our citizens.

These sorts of tactics are not only unacceptable but deeply harmful as we seek to reform and transform the vital frontline services that so many rely on throughout our Province. I am pleased that there was cross-party support on the Committee for sending a clear message to the Government that chronic underfunding is by far the greatest threat to stability in Northern Ireland.

Discussions will be taking place to agree a new fiscal framework beyond 2024/25 and the DUP believes that process must deliver sustainable and needs-based funding arrangements for Northern Ireland. Any other outcome should not be tolerated. We cannot go on being short-changed. Our citizens must not be treated as a second-class citizens when it comes to accessing high-quality and properly resourced public services.’’

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