Economic pressures on Northern Ireland public sector

BBC NI Hearts and Minds’ Julia Paul looks at the pressures facing the public sector of the NI economy, and what the NI Executive can do about it, with contributions from economist John Simpson and professor of politics at Queen’s University Belfast, Rick Wilford.

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  • Greenflag

    This short 4 minutes says all that can be said about the options facing NI i.e not a whole lot . It also highlights and brings into stark relief the unpalateable fact of the virtual powerlessness of the local Assembly to do much more than wring their hands in frustration .

    Two years ago NI would have been ‘alone’ in it’s hand wringing apologia . Now it’s joined by the Republic and Britain as all the experts wonder how could this have happened .

    But NI should look on the bright side . At least it’s not a DUP majority or SF majority Assembly and thus the cuts when they come will be weighed in the balance not for their economic merits or demerits but for their local political impact on those facing future elections in ‘tight ‘ PR constituencies where the last seat will make all the difference -as to who gets the rubber stamp to implement UK economic policy on the province .

    Not much interest seemingly in this topic ? Perhaps the upcoming EU election has given NI folk a chance to avoid facing the economic realities so that they face up to the political ones ?

  • Glencoppagagh

    What an awful superficial report, why did they bother? Where did they get that figure of just 28% employed in the public sector; were they just counting civil servants and excluding teachers, the NHS (one in ten) and police?
    We could have done without NIPSA telling us we need more civil servants in these difficult times. Did it recommend a reduction when we were close to full employment?

  • The Raven

    Glen, I often heard (here, not elsewhere) that a broad guideline for full employment was when unemployment was 5% of the working age population or less.

    If that was a rule of thumb being used here, and Northern Ireland’s claimant count for March was 4.2& then…ummm…well….we kinda still are within that “full employment” range.

    I was with some local businesses yesterday. Pointed out to them that 15 years ago, unemployment here was near the 14% mark in some places. Mind you, we haven’t even mentioned the 9% of the total population (not just working age) on disability related benefits….

    Anyone know more about the full employment thing, above and beyond a Wiki entry, I’d like to hear opinion.

  • Glencoppagagh

    In the halcyon days of Keynesianism during the 50s and 60s, full employment was usually considered to be the lowest rate of unemployment consistent with non-accelerating inflation. Unemployment above 3% would then have been deemed too high.
    Disability benefit claims increased when jobseekers allowance was introduced along with all those annoying inquiries about whether you were actively seeking employment. Much better to be on the sick and left alone to get on with your unofficial work.
    The 4.2% rate would be fairly close to full employment for NI but you’ve got to take into account the disguised unemployment in the public sector.

  • Driftwood

    There are far more people on Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Disablility Living Allowance (DLA) than jobseekers allowance. 20% of the working age population is inactive. Ahter 6 weeks JSA, you go to your GP and say you’re depressed, or even better , an alcoholic,-top rate DLA at £600 a month extra! Plus a house and free everything.
    Unless you’re earning £21,000 a year plus.., you are better off on IB/DLA and no GP will ever turn you down.
    Now…how to get the day in? Well, unlike nost employed people, you’ve always got Sky.

  • The Raven

    …as I alluded to in my post. The DLA etc benefit issue is huge. Here in NI, 10% roughly of the total population…Driftwood says 20% of the working population…incredible figures.

    UK unemployment rate currently stands at 5.4% – it was last around this rate in 1979.

    So are we as badly off?