All proposals to incur expenditure should be subject to a comprehensive, but proportionate business case. This page provides information on DfE business case templates for preparing business cases, how to assess alignment with 10X priorities and provides links to DfE Corporate Governance guidance on approvals. Contact information for DfE economists, who can provide further advice and guidance, can be found at the bottom of the page.

Better Business Cases NI

Better Business Cases NI is the primary guide for Northern Ireland departments on the appraisal and evaluation of projects, policies and programmes. 

Better Business Cases NI is based on the HM Treasury best practice approach to the development of business cases, known as the ‘Five Case Model

The Five Case Model involves separating the business case into its five component parts, or ‘cases’, as follows:

  • strategic case
  • economic case
  • commercial case
  • financial case
  • management case.

Presenting the information in this way is intended to help clarify who is responsible for developing the business case, and which specialist advisers should be involved in providing advice and support. The table below illustrates the specialist advisers that can provide advice for each case.

Five Case Model

Specialist adviser

Strategic case

Departmental economists from Casework and Appraisal Branch (

Policy advisers

Economic case

Departmental economists from Casework and Appraisal Branch (

Commercial case

Commercial, Procurement and P3O Branch ( or Construction and Procurement Delivery in DoF.

Financial case

Business area accountants or departmental Finance (

Management case

Commercial, Procurement and P3O Branch (

Please note that you must allow a minimum of 10 working days for specialists listed above to review cases.  Timescales for the provision of VfM or affordability statements will depend on the amount of time it takes the business area to address any queries/concerns raised by the relevant specialists.

Templates for preparing business cases 

To assist with the completion of business cases DfE has provided a number of business case templates. Delivery partners should contact their partnership teams if they require one of the business case templates.

  • General expenditures < £30k 
  • General expenditures £30k - £250k 
  • General expenditures £250k - £2m
  • Professional services (research, managed services, staff substitution or internal and external consultancy) 
  • Office accommodation 

There is no template for appraising expenditures over £2m. However, the template for £0.5-£2m can be used as a starting point with proportionally more detail provided. The amount of detail required, in all the templates, will depend on the complexity of the project as well as the level of expenditure.

    DfE internal delegations

    The expenditure relating to a business case should be approved based on the delegations that are set out by DfE Corporate Governance, as shown in the table:


    Proposed level of expenditure Level of approval required for all DfE expenditure
    Up to £0.25m Grade 6 or Grade 7
    Between £0.25m and £1m Grade 5
    between £1m and £5m Grade 3
    Above £5m Grade 3, Casework Committee scrutiny, Accounting Officer/Permanent Secretary.
    Expenditure that is potentially novel, contentious, repercussive, sets a precedent, or which may be subject to Ministerial Direction, irrespective of the level of expenditure. Consult the Directors of Corporate Governance and Finance Divisions

    Note 1: Delegated limits should be applied to the total central government monies required (inclusive of irrecoverable VAT).

    Note 2:  Delegated limits should also be applied to proposals which will result in a positive monetary result. Future savings yielded through an ‘invest to save’ type project should be ignored in applying delegated limits.

    Note 3:  Areas requiring DoF approval for all departments are documented in DAO (DoF) 08/21 - Delegated Limits/requirements for DoF approval

    Note 4: Where the proposed level of expenditure exceeds the delegated limits granted to the department by DoF, formal DoF Supply approval will be required.

    Note 5: Where expenditure is above £1m, a value for money (VFM) statement from DfE economists is required.


    Within DfE, post project evaluations (PPE) must be completed for all projects with expenditure above £4,999. The only exception to this is a PPE must be undertaken for all ‘external consultancy’ projects regardless of value. Further information on evaluation, including templates can be found:

    DfE economist contacts


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