Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Monday, 12 November 2012

Public expenditure adjustments

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson criticised the Education Minister, John O'Dowd, for "failure to progress the Review of Educational Maintenance Allowances", on 12 November 2012.

Mr Wilson was briefing the Assembly on the October Monitoring Round.

"I am particularly disappointed that the EMA review has failed to progress," he said.

The minister said Executive departments had submitted bids worth £63.6m and £50.9m in terms of resource and capital expenditure respectively.

Mr Wilson said allocations had been made totalling £33.2m for resource expenditure and £32.8m capital investment.

He said allocations had been made to the Department of Regional Development for roads maintenance, the Department of Health for reducing hospital waiting times, and the Department of Education for maintenance of the schools estate.

A further £8m was to be allocated to the housing co-ownership scheme, the minister added.

Mr Wilson then outlined the budget realignment for 2013 - 14 and 2014 - 15.

Finance Committee chairman, Daithi McKay of Sinn Fein, said he welcomed the help for the construction industry contained in the minister's statement, particularly in the light of difficulties experienced at the Patton company in his North Antrim constituency.

The UUP's Leslie Cree asked about extra allocations of funds from Westminster in the form of "Barnett Consequentials".

These funds are allocated to reflect increases in public spending in other parts of the UK.

Mr Wilson said some people wanted these funds to be spent immediately.

He explained that the money could only be spent in the year for which it was allocated.

Judith Cochrane of Alliance asked the minister for assurance that the spending outlined in the statement would be sustainable given the danger of further spending cuts from the UK government.

The minister said all of the schemes had been funded.

The DUP's Adrian McQuillan wanted to know if the department had met representatives of the banks before agreeing to put extra money into the co-ownership scheme.

Mr Wilson confirmed that there had been meetings with the banks.

Joe Byrne of the SDLP wanted reassurance that the Executive remained committed to the funding of the A5 and A8 road projects.

The minister said he hoped he had given the requested assurance.

He said his department had gone to considerable lengths in negotiations with Westminster to ensure that there would be no shortfall in the funding of the A5 scheme in its final year.


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