Farry: Report confirms cost of division is major challenge

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has responded to the publication by the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre of a report into the cost of division, which reveals that hundreds of millions of pounds of public expenditure are tied up in managing the unaddressed divisions in our society.

Following the report – Cost of Division, a Benchmark of Performance and Expenditure – Mr Farry challenged the Executive to ensure that it is used to redirect resources to the benefit of the whole community.

Stephen Farry MLA said: “This report proves that there is a strong financial and economic imperative to building a shared and integrated society.

“For many years, Alliance has been insisting that trying to manage divisions in this society rather than building an integrated society was having a massive distortion to our public finances and economic prospects. This report is further confirmation in that regard.

“It is now clear that distortions up to £800m per year can be linked to factors including division in this society. Indeed, Alliance contends that the costs in some areas could be even deeper than the authors in this report suggest.

“Furthermore, it is clear that there are as yet unquantified economic costs that continue to hinder the transformation of our economy.

“While it may be difficult to unlock all of these distortions at once, it is nonetheless clear that a start can and should be made. Savings from addressing the costs of division can be reinvested in public services for the benefit of the whole community and the key drivers of economic change such as skills.

“This approach must now feature in the forthcoming Programme for Government and The next Budget. However, the signs are not good that other parties will take this issue seriously, as recently even simple reforms – such as removing the premia paid to teacher training colleges – have been blocked by all other Executive parties.”

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