Assembly to Debate Costs of Division

On Tuesday, the Northern Ireland Assembly is set to debate an Alliance Party motion calling upon Executive to address the estimated £1billion+ annual cost of managing a divided society within its current and future spending plans. This motion comes at a time when the Executive is under increased pressure to find savings in the wake of the recent UK Budget and with potential further cuts being imposed by the Treasury in the future.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Alliance Party Finance Spokesperson, Stephen Farry MLA stated:

“At this time, there is rightly much debate as to how Northern Ireland finds efficiency savings. Money needs to be freed up to invest in economic recovery and improving public services.

“However potentially, over £1billion is tied up due to the costs of managing a divided society, through for example the duplication in the provision of goods, facilities and services. The Deloitte report commissioned by OFMDFM put the annual cost at as high as £1.5billion. These resources should be used much more productively. There is a clear economic and financial imperative to building a shared future.

“Yet at present, addressing the costs of division do not form part of the Programme for Government nor the Budget, and not part of any Department’s Efficiency Delivery Plan. Of course, it will not be possible to release all of these funds in one spending cycle or even the next, but it is critical that we make a start.

“Over the next two years, the Northern Ireland Executive has to produce another £123m in efficiency savings. It may be tempting for the Executive to use the additional £116m to be received as Barnett consequentials arising out of last month’s budget. However, these additional resources are supposed to be for boosting the economy, through investing in training and employment, the green economy and social housing.

“Rather Alliance believes that over the next two years the Executive should seek to address the £123m in efficiency savings through beginning to address the costs of division.”

Text of the motion:

That this Assembly regrets that the Deloitte Report ‘Research into the financial cost of the Northern Ireland divide’, commissioned by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in 2006 has not been acted upon; and calls on the Executive to ensure that the potential to tackle both the direct and embedded costs of division are addressed within the current, and future, spending frameworks, and that the opportunities to provide shared and integrated goods, services and facilities are fully realised.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *