The Department of the Environment budget is based upon 500 staff (a third of all DoE staff) taking up the voluntary redundancy scheme, if they are to balance the books and fund a large number of programmes. She was speaking during an Assembly budget debate.
Anna Lo MLA said: “Every department has been forced to make difficult decisions as they face severe economic pressures, but I have deep concerns that the financial plans submitted by the Environment Minister does not add up.
“His department has outlined proposals to reduce staffing numbers by 500 in order to save £8million in salaries. I believe this will be impossible to achieve – yet I do not think there is a plan B. The department is unlikely to find the necessary money through staff reduction to ensure that the Minister is able to fund a large number of programmes that are contracted out to Councils, the private and voluntary sectors.
“It does not make sense for the department to lose one third of its staff, who are mostly professional or technical grades. If all these staff posts are going to be lost, how is the department going to carry out the current functions and deliver services?
“I have no confidence in these plans – they do not make economic sense. The Minister must take another look at his budget plans, and provide more realistic proposals.”