Northern Ireland £1bn better off after DUP-Tory deal

Schools, hospitals and transport projects in Northern Ireland stand to benefit to the tune of an additional £1 billion over the next two years after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) signed a confidence and supply deal to support the Conservatives in Parliament.

The agreement ensures the DUP will support the minority government on the Queen's speech and in key votes on tax and spending plans. In return, the DUP has been reassured that plans to change the Pension Triple Lock and review winter fuel payments will be dropped. Plus, Northern Ireland will get £1 billion of additional funding, plus a relaxation of spending rules on £500 miilion already committed.

According to a statement by the DUP leader Arlene Foster, the £1.5 billion will "boost the economy and be used to invest in new infrastructure, as well as investing in the future of our health and education sectors and a range of other measures".

The Northern Ireland Executive Investment Strategy includes a very long list of new schools and health sector projects, as well as transport and social infrastructure and development plans. The £1 billion of additional spending breaks down into £200m per year for two years on discrete transportation and other infrastructure projects, plus £150m to help install ultra-fast broadband, £100m to support measures to encourage tourism, £100m to ease immediate pressures on health and education, £200m to support health sector transformations plans and a further £50m to bolster mental health initiatives. Industry leaders in Northern Ireland say that they expect to see "boots on the ground" for many projects by the end of the summer

While the extra investment will no doubt be welcome in Northern Ireland, the deal has already been criticised by political representatives in Scotland, Wales and in some of the English regions for showing beneficial treatment at the expense of other areas that have also suffered from a lack of investment over recent years. It will be very interesting to see how the demands for extra investment from these areas are dealt with by the government in the coming weeks and months.