Cochrane – Commitment to tackle cost of division must be honoured

Alliance Finance spokesperson, Judith Cochrane MLA, has said that the Executive must honour the commitment within the Stormont House Agreement that departmental spending would be independently audited to ensure we do not continue to waste resources on maintaining division. She was speaking during a debate in the Assembly on the draft 2015/16 budget.

The Stormont House Agreement states

‘There should be an independent audit of departmental spending to identify how divisions in society impact on the delivery of goods, facilities and services, and to then consider how best to reconfigure service delivery in a manner consistent with a shared future.’

Judith Cochrane MLA said: “I was pleased that a commitment for all departments to tackle the cost of division was included in the Stormont House Agreement at the Alliance Party’s insistence. While it is unlikely that we will dramatically reduce the cost of maintaining a divided society within the confines of a one year budget, it is important that work begins now to tackle this issue. It is therefore vital that all departments honour this commitment and that they follow the example set by Alliance Ministers in the Departments of Justice and Employment and Learning over recent years.

“The Stormont House Agreement has also resolved the welfare reform impasse, but we have to question why this approach could not have been accepted by the SDLP and Sinn Fein two years ago. This would have prevented the millions lost on penalties – money that could have been used to protect the most vulnerable.

“It is important that when the final budget is produced, it reflects a truly strategic approach with allocations based on need. All departments must focus on ensuring that frontline services are prioritised.”


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