Department for the Economy facing £43m of 'inescapable pressures'

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The Department for the Economy (DfE) is facing £43m of "inescapable pressures," a committee has heard.

Officials from the DfE told the Economy Committee that £33m is needed to address salary pressures in the further education sector.

The remaining £10m is expected to be found from existing EU funding, the committee was told.

Concerns were also raised about how the rollout of rural broadband, Project Stratum, will be funded.

The plan is to improve connectivity for 79,000 homes across Northern Ireland.

It is expected to cost £150m which was allocated from the £1bn confidence and supply arrangement between the DUP and the Conservative government.

While officials said this project remains a priority, they say the money has not been ring-fenced and therefore cannot be guaranteed.

The rollout is expected to cost £15m next year and £45m for the next three years.