NI executive faces cuts of £128m

Image caption,
The leaders of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales met at Stormont

The Northern Ireland Executive will have to save an extra £128m on top of other savings this year.

The cuts are part of the overall package announced by the Treasury.

Chancellor George Osborne has given the devolved regions the option of making the cuts now in this current financial year - or deferring them until the year after.

NI Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said he would be weighing up the options.

The Executive will decide which departments will be affected.

The cuts in 2010-11 for devolved administrations will be £704m across NI, Scotland and Wales.

NI First Minister Peter Robinson has said Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are working on a common approach to dealing with the cuts.

Mr Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met with the Scottish and Welsh first ministers in Belfast on Monday afternoon.

Mr Robinson said the three devolved administrations were jointly looking for the "widest level of flexibility."

Mr McGuinness added: "All of our administrations know and understand that we are facing very difficult times ahead.

"Peter and I have discussed how we will deal with the situation that is before us as a result of the announcement today."

In London, the chancellor said it was necessary to take "urgent action" to address the UK's budget deficit as he spelt out plans for £6.2bn worth of cuts.

The Department of Finance at Stormont has worked out that Northern Ireland's share of this round of cutbacks will be £128m.

This is on top of the £393m, government departments in Northern Ireland have already been told they have to save this year.

The announcement is only the beginning of the government's three year programme to reduce the Uk's huge budget deficit.

Image caption,
Sammy Wilson said he would be weighing up the options

On Monday, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said: "We knew it was coming down the line and when departments surrender money through the year as inevitably they do, we can maybe use some of that to offset these cuts that have been imposed on us.

"So it might be a combination of some deferral, some implementation now, all deferral or full implementation now.

"It is something the Executive will have to look at and I will be taking a paper to them on it."

Many executive departmental budgets for this year have already been set so ministers will have to decide if they want to take the pain now or postpone it - but either way the cuts will have to be made.

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