Autumn Statement: Northern Ireland in line for cash boost

The Chancellor's decision could mean additional spending of between £50 and £70m for Northern Ireland The Chancellor's decision should mean additional spending of around £41m for Northern Ireland, sources said

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Northern Ireland should receive about £41m in additional public spending next year.

Treasury sources say this will be Stormont's share of the extra £2bn the chancellor will allocate to the UK health service.

George Osborne will use his Autumn Statement on Wednesday to announce the extra health funding.

Increased spending on health in England means an automatic increase in funding for Northern Ireland.

The change is due to the operation of the Barnett Formula, which will allocate about £33m to NI.

The other money is a share of the fines which have been taken from banks for manipulating the foreign exchange market.

The Executive is not obliged to spend the extra money on health.

Last week, Northern Ireland's Department of Health published a draft budget which showed a "funding gap" of £160m for next year.

'Frontline'

Health consumes almost half of the Northern Ireland Executive's budget.

Its spending is being protected and will continue to rise.

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Analysis

The devil will be in the detail of this announcement.

If it is all entirely new money it is easy to just apply the Barnett Formula.

It dictates that Northern Ireland will get just over 3% of what England gets.

However, if there are reallocations of money or offsetting cuts in other areas the amount could be sharply lower.

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However, the department's budget plan said it still has growing funding pressures from an ageing population, new treatments and patient expectations.

The chancellor told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "Because we have a strong economy and we've got the public finances under control, we can afford to put £2bn into the frontline of the NHS across the United Kingdom," he said.

'Winter crisis'

"I can tell you we can go further and use those fines that have been paid by the banks for a permanent improvement in GP services.

"This is a down-payment on the NHS's own long-term plan and it shows you can have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it was a "typical Tory pattern" of a "winter crisis, and crisis money coming after it".

He told the the Andrew Marr Show: "The question is, is this a one-off or is it going to be an actual long-term investment in the nurses and doctors we need?

He said Labour's proposed 'mansion tax' on properties worth £2m and over would raise the money to invest £2.5bn "over and above" the government's spending plans into the health service, and claimed: "We'll save the NHS. The Tories are really putting the NHS in danger."

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