Northern Ireland is set to receive an extra £1bn over the next two years as part of a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to keep Theresa May's minority government in power.
In return for agreeing to the “supply and confidence deal” with the Conservatives, the DUP has obtained a series of financial pledges for “additional financial support” for the Northern Ireland Executive.
Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, said the deal would boost the economy and allow investment in new infrastructure, health and education.
“We welcome this financial support of £1bn in the next two years, as well as providing new flexibilities on almost £500m previously committed to Northern Ireland,” she said.
“As a consequence, spending power of almost £1.5bn will be available to address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and the effect these have had on the economy and its people.”
The £500m on top of the £1bn extra spend refers to a fund previously earmarked for education and housing projects, which has now been “unlocked” to go into general infrastructure spending instead.
Prime minister Theresa May said in the interests of transparency, the full terms of the agreement were published.
The extra £1bn agreement includes £400m for infrastructure development with a specific mention of the York Street Interchange, a project to ease congestion where three major roads meet in Belfast.
On top of the £400m is a further £150m for ultra-fast broadband rollout to improve connectivity of rural businesses.
The health sector will receive a minimum of £250m, with £200m directed to health service transformation, £50m towards mental health provisions and £50m to “address immediate pressures”.
To tackle pressures in the education system, £50m has been allocated to ease a growing row with headteachers over wages.
There is also £100m available to be spent on deprived communities over five years.
There are around 1.8m people in Northern Island and the headline deal equates to an extra £550 per head.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the size of the Northern Irish economy in 2015 was £34bn, so the extra £1bn represents a boost of 3% of GDP.
Extra £1bn funding breakdown:
• £400m for infrastructure projects
• £200m for improvement of health service
• £150m for ultra-fast broadband
• £100m to address immediate pressure in health and education
• £100m for tackling deprivation (over five years)
• £50m for mental health services (over five years)
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