Parties must Explain Policy Development Grants to Taxpayers

Alliance Party Candidate for East Antrim, Stewart Dickson, has criticised the quality of Manifestos produced by the UUP, SDLP and DUP, and called upon taxpayers to ask what use these parties have made of their substantial Policy Development Grants.

Councillor Dickson said:

“The UUP, DUP and SDLP all receive significant six figure sums from the taxpayer in the form of Policy Development Grants due to their representation in Westminster.

“All three of these parties presumably see themselves as part of the next Executive. For far too long, parties in Northern Ireland continue to be allowed to get away with shoddy wish-lists as manifestos, with no detailed or costed pledges. These manifestos would be laughed off the doorsteps and exposed as empty promises in a GB election.

“Without the access to similar funds and with a very small staff, Alliance has produced by far the most detailed Manifesto relative to our size.

“Now, having seen all of their manifestos, the taxpayer is now entitled to ask searching questions as to what use these grants have been put to, and whether they really are getting value for their vote.”

Note to Editors:

In 2002, the UUP received £237,317, the SDLP received £133,921, and the DUP received £110,555. (Source: Party Accounts published by the Electoral Commission.) These grants were created under the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Act (2000). A global sum is divided up between all the parties with at least two MPs who take their seats at Westminster. Parties can use the grants in relation to any elected body, including Westminster, devolved Assemblies, District Councils, and the European Parliament.

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