Audit Office agrees to investigate Alliance concerns over funding method

The Northern Ireland Audit Office has agreed to investigate ongoing Alliance concerns over a controversial fund for community projects.

The party delegation, led by Belfast City Councillor Michael Long, met the Audit Office today to raise worries over the lack of openness and transparency surrounding the Local Investment Fund (LIF).

The fund, which was not advertised publicly and had no clear system for determining which projects could be funded, saw millions allocated to several schemes without strategic objectives or measurement of outcomes.

“Earlier this year, Alliance proposed to have an immediate review of the concerns raised by an Audit Office report into LIF last year, which urged the Council to consider the effectiveness of this method of funding,” said Councillor Long.

“When £4 million was allocated to tourist projects in the autumn, we called the decision in and, whilst the opinion went against us, it was recognised there was little or no process for some applications. Projects appeared to be based on a one for you, one for me approach and again there was no open call.

“Far from our concerns being alleviated, these actions have only added to our opinion current funding mechanisms are not fit for purpose. It seems obvious there is a clear pattern – Sinn Féin and the DUP are working together on funding issues.

“As a party committed to openness and transparency, Alliance feels this is not good enough. I am pleased the Audit Office has agreed to investigate our concerns and I hope it leads to a more appropriate method of funding projects being established.”

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