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Departmental Underspend

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much of the underspend by Departments in Northern Ireland for the year ending 31 March 2002 will not be carried forward to the next financial year. [119045]

The full amount of end-year flexibility (EYF) that Northern Ireland is entitled to carry forward from 2001–02 is being retained under the normal arrangements. Underspends to be carried forward into 2002–03 in respect of 2001–02 were originally based on an estimate of departmental spend made in the early summer of 2002. This has subsequently been revised to take account of actual departmental spend in 2001–02 and will be drawn down in 2003–04, subject to agreement by the Treasury.

Of the actual underspend by Northern Ireland Departments for 2001–02, some amounts were outside the EYF arrangements: resources of £3.6 million in respect of the Interconnector scheme were not carried forward into future years. This was a specific ring-fenced and time-bounded scheme where the original allocation was not required in full. In addition, resources of –9.9 million in respect of the EU Peace and Reconciliation Programme I (EUPRP I) were not carried forward into future years. Due to changes in the Sterling/Euro exchange rates and other technicalities during the life of the Programme, these resources were not required to secure the full draw-down of eligible funding from Brussels.

Under Treasury rules, some Reserve claims have to be deducted from the following year's end-year flexibility (EYF): in respect of 2001–02, amounts of £1.9 million had to be treated in that way. Also, as had been agreed following the 2000 Spending Review (SR 2000), the EYF claim was abated by an amount of £22.1 million to correct an over-allocation which arose in SR 2000. These had been allowed for in the planning of budgets and did not affect departmental budgets.