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Federation comments on Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement

Commenting after the Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement today, Construction Employers Federation Managing Director Mark Spence said...

“Today’s Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor will enable the Northern Ireland Executive to take forward a consultation on its spending plans for 2021/22 and we look forward to taking part in that over the coming weeks.

“While this falls short of the 3-4 year spending plan we had hoped for, which would give greater certainty to Government Clients planning out their investment on areas such as road maintenance and new build social housing, it is important that the Executive uses the 2021/22 Budget as a means to lay out a plan for multi-year budgets in the financial years thereafter.

“However, with the Executive’s capital budget remaining surprisingly flat into next year, it also means the Executive must urgently focus on its capacity to deliver so many investment needs through the Block Grant alone.

“The recent decision to reform the Housing Executive was a massive step towards recognising the limitations of Block Grant funding and we believe, in the context of today’s figures and the medium term capex profile, they must go further and urgently address the long-term governance and funding arrangements of Northern Ireland Water before the next Assembly election in 2022.

“The Department for Infrastructure’s capital funding allocation of £550m this year will, likely, be required to be replicated into next year – and that’s without allocating an additional penny to Northern Ireland Water which, on the face of it, needs to at least double its annual infrastructure spend for each of the six years of PC21 in order to make any tangible dent in its infrastructure deficit.

“While announcements today like a new UK infrastructure bank will grab the headlines – it is the practical realities of the funding available to the Northern Ireland Executive which needs to focus minds”.