Stormont's budget to be set after chancellor's statement

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Finance Minister Conor Murphy

By Rebecca Black, PA

Stormont's budget will be set at the end of March, Finance Minister Conor Murphy has said.

The Northern Ireland Executive agreed during a meeting on Monday morning to wait until after the Westminster Budget has been set.

There had been a previous indication that the Stormont budget would be set before.

Mr Murphy said there is more certainty for the Executive in going after March 11 rather than going before and potentially having to reallocate funding.

The minister said finances are currently around £600 million short of the basic requirements put forward by departments - not including commitments made in the New Decade, New Approach deal and the Executive's aspirations.

He is due to travel to London for further meetings with Treasury officials on Thursday to continue ongoing discussions.

"This morning, the Executive agreed that we would be producing our own budget at the end of March and this is to allow for the March 11 Budget being done by the British Chancellor so we can have a fuller understanding of what funding may be available to us," he told media at Parliament Buildings in Belfast.

"Whatever comes from the March 11 Budget, nine years of austerity have had a very serious impact on our public services and undoubtedly the Executive is going to continue to be challenged as a consequence of that.

"We want to provide first-class services, we want to provide all that is promised in the programme for government, we want to match the commitments that were made under the New Decade, New Approach document.

"That is all a very significant challenge for an incoming Executive, but we want to do that in a collegiate and collaborative way.

"This is the Department of Finance budget as we present it but it is in effect the Executive's budget and so we want to ensure that we get that right.

"On the timing issue ... going after March 11 does present some logistical difficulties but there is more certainty from the Executive's approach in going after March 11 than perhaps going before and having to reallocate funding on the other side of that."

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