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Saturday, January 20, 2018

How are the DUP spending their windfall?

According to i-News, the first tranche of the £1 billion secured by the DUP as part of its deal with the Tories is already being spent, despite the fact that Parliament has not authorised the expenditure as the Government said would be necessary.

The news site has been told by the Treasury that the Confidence and Supply Agreement is subject to the full authorisation of the UK Parliament through supply estimates which will take place soon. However, in late November, the Department of Finance said that £20 million “is being drawn down now from the Treasury” and on Monday the department confirmed that the money was being allocated to health and education to be spent before March 31 but that it would not be drawing down the additional £30 million which the Government had offered under the DUP agreement:

Rather than authorising expenditure of the money prior to it being spent, the Government is planning to ask Parliament to approve the expenditure after some of it has already left the Government account – effectively a retrospective process.

In other words there will not be a vote on the deal, but the money is likely to be bundled in with wider public spending authorisation in the Spring Supplementary Estimates, a tidying-up exercise which regularises public spending in the final few weeks of the financial year.

This will make the job of scrutiny very difficult, minimise the chances of the opposition being able to focus in on the deal when debating the estimates and effectively undermine transparency. The fact that even a small part of the money will have been spent prior to the vote is a snub to the Parliamentary system.
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