There's no magic money tree - unless you're making a deal with the DUP

On Monday the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) agreed a £1.5bn deal that keeps Theresa May in Downing Street.

Instead they could have funded Labour policies for which they said there was 'no magic money tree'.

£1.5bn has been agreed in the deal with the DUP that gives the Conservatives a majority in the House of Commons until 2019.

With this money, you could have paid for bursaries for nurses, 10,000 new police officers, or a carer's allowance, which are all among the policies which the Tories said could not be funded without a tax rise.

In exchange for the £1.5bn, the DUP have entered in a ‘Confidence and supply agreement’ with the Conservatives.

The two parties' combined seats give the government a working majority of 13. This will be used to ensure the government is not defeated on key legislation, such Brexit and finance bills. All other legislation not listed in the deal will be supported by the DUP on a case by case basis.

The deal between the two parties also includes a promise that the government will spend £1.5 billion for infrastructure, health, and education in Northern Ireland over the next two years.

The figure is combination of £500 million that was already announced, and £1 billion of new money.

Details can be read in this three page document of the agreement.

'There isn't a magic money tree'

During the election campaign, the Tories repeatedly attacked the opposition Labour Party over its spending pledges.

The line “there is no magic money tree” was used repeatedly by senior Tories such as Amber Rudd and Theresa May.

Appearing on Question Time during the campaign, May responded to a question about pay freezes in the NHS by saying:

We have had to take some hard choices across the public sector in relation to public sector pay restraint.

We did that because of the decisions we had to take to bring public spending under control because it wasn't under control under the last Labour government.

She went on, using the campaign slogan:

I'm being honest with you in terms of saying that we will put more money into the NHS, but there isn't a magic money tree that we can shake that suddenly provides for everything that people want.

So where has the magic money for Northern Ireland come from?

The Labour manifesto was entirely costed, and the party published an accompanying document which spelled out how each policy would be paid for.

The Conservatives who produced no costings for their manifesto, let alone this unforeseen deal, nevertheless criticised Labour’s plans.

In March, they said Labour’s plans would required an extra £45 billion in tax.

Here's what you could have won

Here are some of the things in Labour’s manifesto for which the Conservatives said there was no money for (not even a teeny tiny unnoticeable billion pounds which they have committed to Northern Ireland).

To show this, indy100 has used the Conservative Party's own costing of Labour policies.

These were published by the Tories in their document ‘Cost of Chaos’ which was unveiled on 3 May 2017 during the election campaign by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Any one of these policies, or a combination of some the smaller ones, could have been paid for in lieu of this deal with the DUP.

Instead the UK is being treated to a deal that keeps Theresa May in Downing Street, and funds healthcare, education, and infrastructure to a degree that is disproportionate to the other component parts of the UK.

Overall public spending per capita has been higher in Northern Ireland than in any of the other UK regions for decades.

Here are some other policies, costed by Labour, which could've been paid for:

  • Restoring bursaries for nursing students £0.6bn.
  • Doubling paternity pay and paternity leave £0.3bn.
  • Uprate state pensions for British pensioners overseas and extending Pension Credit to those affected by changes to their state pension age since the 1995 Pensions Act £0.3bn.
  • More funding for local government £1.5bn for 2017-18.

Admittedly, Labour also pledged £250 billion for infrastructure, which was for all of the UK including Northern Ireland.

The proportion of Labour's UK-wide spending commitments were not broken down by region in their costing document.

The deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionists will last until the end of the current parliament, due to expire in 2019.

indy100 has contacted the Conservative Party for comment.

HT BBC, Guardian

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