“Next time they might try openness and joined-up thinking”

I was somewhat blunter in my initial assessment of the Northern Ireland Executive’s spending plans, but I get the impression Patrick Murphy, in The Irish News, agrees.

Their budgetary plans tell us three things – departments do not talk to each other, few of them know what a customer is and most ministers do not expect to retain their posts after the election.

The information you wanted to know – details of how the cuts will affect you – will generally not be available until after you vote.

Evidence of each department’s solo run lies in the lack of cohesion between their budget statements’ style, format and content.  Only three have equality impact statements: Social Development (DSD), Regional Development (DRD) and, very comprehensively, Environment (DoE).  DRD alone bothered with a risk assessment, an integral part of financial planning.

More significantly, no department refers to another, however close the two ought to be.

And, to highlight just two of the examples he gives,

The health department’s paper has the oddest approach.  While it has the good sense to factor in demographic change, inflation and VAT rises, it offers a list of outcomes which could occur because of its cuts.  (Dear Michael McGimpsey, we can only comment on firm proposals, not on a list of possibilities.)

Education has moved money from capital to revenue, so that there will be no new schools in the foreseeable future.  As its spending proposals indicate, education boards have addressed previous cuts by reducing school maintenance budgets.

There is now a property time-bomb in education.

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  • Cynic2

    Its worse than dysfunctional.

    The Executive moves money form revenue to capital because of the impact on the construction industry. Catatonia moves it back – the lazy way to budget and in the Department’s hope that they will strong arm money back later on when kids sue over schooling in substandard schools.In the meantime she also loses £87m of spending capacity because her Department was so inefficient it couldn’t spend it fast enough.

    We don’t have a coherent Government. We have a series of robber barons (with the emphasis on robber). This has to change.

  • wild turkey

    “We have a series of robber barons ”

    ah, if only we did cynic, we might see the politically correct innumerate make wiser, or at least more cynical, decisions. to the benefit of the schools and pupils; both present and FUTURE, they are responsible for. believe me, as the govenor as an independent grant maintained school, this latest shenigans has the potential to lay all our best thought plans and budgeting to waste.

    i suspect when minister cats depatmental advisors use the term “net expenditure” she assumes this must be something to do with her illustrious tennis career.

    enough ranting, the discovery channel has a special this evening on bird watching in columbia. i’m off.

  • Cynic2

    Does anyone know why she became a Minister? SF have a lot of bright, clever people. I am clearly missing something. Is this as good as it gets?

  • wild turkey

    “Does anyone know why she became a Minister?”

    umhh, given her earlier roles in west belfast festival and festival radio, as the lead spokesperson on the “bring back home” campaign, maybe she impressed some with her oral skills?

    conjecture really.

  • Boglover

    The lack of dialogue between Departments should be of no surprise, given that some DUP Ministers will still not speak to SF ones and vice versa. However, one of the best examples of dysfunction is the so-called Green New Deal, which now appears solely in the DoE budget. Get this – introduce a tax on plastic bags without any budget for administration that is supposed to yield £4m in revenue to finance environmental work. Where did the figures come from, as DoE certainly weren’t asked? Maybe that guardian of the environment Sammy Wilson dreamed them up. I hear that there’s a move afoot for DoE to put a logo on each bag sold; “A Bag For (Wild) Life”

  • Cynic2

    “A Bag For (Wild) Life”

    Great. Another counterfeiting opportunity for our entrepreneurs

  • Cynic2

    “her earlier roles in west belfast festival and festival radio, as the lead spokesperson on the “bring back home” campaign”

    But at those times she swore blind (I think even in legal action against Belfast Council – but I may be wrong) that:

    1 West Belfast festival was totally apolitical and had no connection at all with Sinn Fein

    2 in the bring them home campaign she wasn’t working at all for SF. It was a totally independent effort by concerned Irish people at an injustice to fellow citizen Birdwatchers.

    So I am sure it cannot have been that. Indeed she seems to have just joined the party and suddenly become a Minister so one does wonder why. Is her family part of the old republican royalty (like Gerry’s) ot was she just appointed on merit?

  • Cynic2

    By the way Pete, given the recent performance of the Executive, that term ‘Thinking’ in the title almost creased me up

  • Pigeon Toes

    How can departments “indicative savings” relate to money which hasn’t actually been allocated yet?