As set out in the document “Financial context for revenue raising consultations” published by the Department of Finance, the Northern Ireland Public Sector is facing very challenging financial circumstances.
The cost to government of delivering the bTB programme in Northern Ireland has increased significantly over the last number of years. In the five financial years between 2016/17 and 2020/21, the average annual cost of delivering the programme was £38.4million with an average annual compensation bill of £21.35million. However, in 2022/23, the Programme cost had risen to a record £53m with compensation accounting for just over £38m of this amount.
Given the well documented pressures on public expenditure, the current cost to government of the bTB Programme is not sustainable. Therefore, the Secretary of State’s direction, under section 5A of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2022, instructed DAERA to seek views on reducing bTB compensation.
This is with a view to ensuring that the bTB programme remains affordable and continues to be able to support the Northern Ireland cattle industry which is estimated to be worth around £2.1 billion per annum to our local economy.