The Government continues to recognise Northern Ireland’s special circumstances. That is why public spending per head is 23 per cent higher here than the UK average. During the course of the last spending review the Executive’s budget actually grew in cash terms. When it comes to welfare reform Northern Ireland has much to gain from replacing a failed system that traps far too many people into dependency with a modern system that ensures work always pays. The Government is convinced that this remains the best route out of poverty. The answer to Northern Ireland’s challenges cannot be ever more large cheques from the Treasury.