NISF Statement on NI Budget announcement 2024

NOrthern Ireland Sports Forum Logo

The NI Sports Forum recognises the ongoing pressures faced by government departments across the Executive and that difficult decisions are having to be made; however, it remains paramount that sport is recognised for its contributions to the Programme for Government and local economy.

The recent budget announcement from the Minister of Finance has outlined that the Department of Communities has received a 1.6% uplift compared to the 2022-23 budget. Behind Economy and Finance, this is the 3rd lowest change in budget across the departments; set against a backdrop of ongoing inflationary pressures.  Once final allocations are made, it will be disappointing if sport does not see increased support for key projects, particularly the development of grass roots infrastructure needed across the sector.

NISF research into allocations for SportNI has shown a stagnant allocation to sport in Exchequer funding over the 4 years up to 2022; furthermore, this was around 10% less than 4 years up to 2017.   Although Governing Bodies are primarily funded through Lottery, it is the likes of projects to grassroots club facilities and other programmes that are likely to be most affected.  We recognise there is increased Lottery spend by SportNI to reduce accumulated reserves over the next 3-4 years, but this should not be used as a reason to offset or reduce investment to the sector by the Executive.

We welcome that there has been some additional allocation to the sub regional stadia programme and Casement Park, but are again aware this will not meet the needs for these projects that have now been held up for over a decade and potentially delaying wider investment across all sports.

To achieve on the outcomes of the Active Living strategy, we need increased, consistent and long term investment; a coherent Facilities Strategy to benefit the wider sector is now urgently needed.

The Finance Minister’s statement on budget can be found ⁠here

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