Public to have say on £130m economy cuts - but be quick

The Department for the Economy says it must find £130 million in savings in its budget for the next two years
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BUSINESS groups and the public can now have their say on where the axe will fall on swingeing cuts planned across tourism, university tuition fees, skills, job creation and screen industries.

In May, the Department for the Economy (DfE) admitted it needs to identify more than £100 million savings in the current budgetary year, while additional fund pressures of £30 million have been identified for 2023/24.

It means the department’s overall resource spending power is reduced by a whopping 16 per cent.

"Difficult decisions will be needed in order to live within the funding available," a department official said.

Nearly three quarters of the department's existing budget supports skills, further education and higher education, so it is inevitable these sectors will be heavily impacted.

The DfE has just started a 12-week public consultation on the equality implications of its budget for 2023/24.

And while that runs until August 30, the department has said: "Given the urgency around the need for decision-making, we particularly encourage responses within the initial four weeks of the consultation period - up to July 5.

"Views received during this time will be used to inform our initial allocation of funds to our business areas and arm’s-length bodies, as well as any early mitigations that can be put in place," the department said.

Responses received from then until the end of the consultation process in August will be used to consider further mitigation measures, to inform in-year budget reallocation processes, and to direct any additional funding (or further reductions) that emerge over the course of the financial year.

The economy department says that managing a £130m shortfall "will undoubtedly impact our ability to deliver public services in 2023/24".

This, it says, will include funding of further education and higher education, skills measures, and the activities of arm’s-length bodies and agencies which deliver services and support for areas including economic development, tourism, creative and screen industries, consumer protection, workplace safety and resolving disputes at work.

A department spokesman said: "Through this Equality Impact Assessment we are seeking comment and feedback on the decisions required and the impacts of those decisions. These responses will inform our decision-making."

Details of the budget proposals and how to respond to the consultation are available at: