Northern Ireland

James Brokenshire to take financial decisions for Stormont next week

James Brokenshire
Image caption Mr Brokenshire will make a written statement in the Commons next week to allocate funds before Parliament has its summer recess

The Northern Ireland secretary of state will make some financial decisions for Stormont next week.

Civil servants are currently in control of Stormont's finances because the executive collapsed before agreeing a 2017-18 budget.

James Brokenshire's intervention will, however, stop short of imposing a budget for now.

He will instead reallocate underspends and other money in what is known as a monitoring round.

In a statement, Mr Brokenshire said that having taken advice from civil servants he had concluded it was necessary to "provide additional clarity... in addressing financial pressures and maintaining public services".

He will make a written statement to the House of Commons with adjusted indicative budget positions and departmental allocations.

He said these will take account of extra money arising from the UK's spring budget, which has not yet been allocated.

Image caption Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since Stormont's collapse in January

The BBC understands that about £116m will be allocated, including £42m flowing from the spring budget.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since January, when the coalition led by the two biggest parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, collapsed over a green energy scandal.

Under the current rules, civil servants only have control of 75% of the £10bn block grant.

By the end of July, this will rise to 95% of funds - but they are reluctant to take some spending decisions in the absence of direction from ministers.

The issue of passing a full budget for Northern Ireland from Westminster, in the absence of Stormont, is on hold for now.

The autumn is thought to be the more probable time for this, if a political deal continues to prove elusive.

A budget would give Northern Ireland access to all of its block grant.

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