North Down Alliance Councillor David Alderdice has given a positive response to the Secretary of State’s announcement of a Comprehensive Spending Review. However, he called for it to be better linked to the Shared Future Action Plan. The Review, he claims, only makes sense in the context of a review of existing government policies and practices that contribute to segregation.
Cllr Alderdice stated said: “I am encouraged by the Secretary of State’s remarks on education and the economy. It is very significant that the Secretary of State has today highlighted the financial costs and damage to Northern Ireland’s competitiveness from the costs of segregation, including in the area of education.
“For quite some time, Alliance has been highlighting the costs of managing a divided society. We have estimated that these costs amount to £1 billion a year. This includes both the direct costs, such as policing, but also the indirect costs arising from the formal or informal provision of segregated facilities by the state. On top of this, there is substantial
lost investment due to violence and instability.
“Specifically, over £300 million – the cost of two hospitals or a 50-mile motorway – is wasted in the education system here. Comfortably more money is spent per capita on education administration here than elsewhere in the UK, but yet less money actually gets spent directly on pupils.
“The challenge now is for Government to change the policies and practices that contribute to costly segregation, where necessary taking on the entrenched vested interests defending the status quo. To achieve this, we would call for this Comprehensive Spending Review to be linked in with the now overdue ‘Shared Future Action Plan’.
“No longer can we afford to see integrated education, mixed housing and shared facilities as an ‘added complication’. We must move towards a society where these are the default options, and where state-sponsored segregation is ended.”