NI cuts watch: department by department

The coalition government has placed cutting the UK's record budget deficit at the heart of its economic policy.

On 20 October, the Chancellor will announce the details of his Comprehensive Spending Review.

It is expected to lead to a cut of up to £2bn in the Northern Ireland budget, between 20 and 25% of its total expenditure.

In the run up to the CSR, check here for updates on how NI government departments plan to reduce their spending and by how much.

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Department's key responsibilities: Health and social care, public health and public safety, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Annual budget: £4.5bn

Surgeon

Cuts required to meet savings targets: There have been some suggestions that the department's spending should be ring-fenced.

However, given that its budget dwarfs those in other departments, special treatment would lead to much more severe cuts in other areas.

If the budget is not ring fenced, some estimate that the cuts to the health budget could be as much as £758m by 2014-15.

If that is the case, then it seems inevitable that frontline services will be affected.

Will cuts mean a strong prescription for the NI health service?

Department for Regional Development

Department's key responsibilities: Regional development, transport strategy, public roads, public transport, water and sewerage services

Annual budget: £1.07bn

Cuts required to meet savings targets: DRD has not identified how much it expects to have to save by 2014-15.

However, it has one of the biggest budgets of any Stormont department and investment in infrastructure projects like roads could take a hit due to expenditure reductions.

The department has said that it is carrying out a transfer of functions and staff to local councils in a bid to further streamline its operations.

Department for Social Development

Department's key responsibilities: housing, social security, pensions, child support and urban regeneration

Annual budget: £775.5m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: The department has not clarified exactly how much it believes it will have to save by 2015.

Its main responsibility is administration of social security payments through the Social Security Agency.

Cuts to actual payments will not impact its budget as they still come from the budget of the Department of Work and Pensions in Whitehall.

Some social regeneration projects have already been cut back in the light of the impending spending reductions.

Department of Education

Department's key responsibilities: Pre-school, primary, secondary and special education;

Child writing at desk

Annual budget: £1.9bn

Cuts required to meet savings targets: The department will not say what it believes its budget will be by the end of the four-year cycle.

The minister, Caitriona Ruane, is understood to be fighting hard, particularly over cuts to her capital budget which will have a knock-on effect on the school building programme.

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Department's key responsibilities: Enterprise, energy, tourism, innovation, telecoms and social economy

Annual budget: £200m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: Department officials have told Stormont's DETI committee that they are working on a scenario of £92m cuts over a four-year period.

The committee heard that cuts at this level would affect frontline services and projects such as UK City of Culture 2013.

Committee chairman Alban Maginness said the reduction in financing envisaged for Invest NI would cripple its role as a job-creating organisation.

A senior DETI official, Colin Lewis, agreed that the figures amounted to a worst case scenario.

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Cow

Department's key responsibilities: Agriculture, food, fisheries, forestry, rural sustainability

Annual budget: £250m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: The department has said it will gradually reduce its budget by £40m to £210m by 2015.

A DARD official has said that there are not yet any assumptions about where cuts will be made or whether jobs will be lost.

DARD faces having to pay up to £100m for farm subsidy disallowances imposed by the EU.

The department has said that a move from its Dundonald House headquarters to a new site is necessary and is likely to cost up to £13m.

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Department's key responsibilities: Arts and creativity, libraries, language policy, musuems, sport, inland waterways and fisheries, NI involvement in the 2012 Olympics

Annual budget: £109m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: The department wants to reduce its budget to £92m by 2015.

A department civil servant has said that job losses are inevitable because of the reductions.

Priorities for ringfencing identified by the Minister, Nelson McCausland, include the Ulster-Scots Academy, an IT project for libraries and the World Police and Fire games, due to be held in Northern Ireland in 2013.

DCAL cuts 'will mean job losses'

Department of Finance and Personnel

Department's key responsibilities: Controlling the expenditure of government departments, rates collection through Land and Property Services, civil service staffing, managing the government estate

Annual budget: £183m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: A reduction of £28m by 2014-15.

A department official has said that it will be difficult for it to find savings because it does not operate many major programmes itself but instead provides services to other departments, for example accounting.

Therefore any cuts in DFP will have a knock-on effect on other departments.

The department has warned that is unlikely that it will be able to deliver sufficient savings through efficiency measures "and consideration will have to be given to stopping low priority services".

Office of the First and Deputy First Minister

Department's key responsibilities: Promoting equality, economic policy and regeneration, north-south co-operation, promoting Northern Ireland abroad

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness greet Bill Clinton

Annual budget: £91m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: A cut of £14m to leave a budget of approximately £77m for 2014-15.

Details of which programmes may be cut have not been released as both ministers have not yet signed off on the September Monitoring Round.

Department for Employment and Learning

Department's key responsibilities: Employment, further and higher education, employment rights, skills and training

Annual budget: £836.5m

Cuts required to meet savings targets: The Department says it will contribute to its share of the overall budget reduction for Northern Ireland but says that no firm decisions have yet been made.

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