So what changed between the draft and final versions of the Programme for Government?

The final version of the NI Executive’s 2011-2015 Programme for Government was published last Monday.

What changes were made between the draft version issued in November 2011 and the final version issued in March 2012 after three months of consultation?

Running section one of each version through a convenient comparison tool [Ed – Microsoft Word!] generated this handy PDF which tracks the changes.

Nothing too sinister, but interesting to see how public feedback – and no doubt, fresh thinking from departments themselves – influenced the final version.

In summary:

  • The wording has been beefed up in many places. An example is the first DETI commitment which used to say “support the promotion of over 25,000 new jobs” but has now been amplified to say “contribute to rising levels of employment by supporting the promotion of over 25,000 new jobs”.
  • The headline investment figure of £300 million through Foreign Direct Investment has been upped to £375m, and enhanced with £400, from indigenous businesses supported by Invest NI and £225m as a result of the Jobs Fund.
  • Tourist visitor numbers and revenue have been upped and DETI’s deadline has been extended from “2013” to “December 2014”.
  • A new commitment from DEL and DETI aims to reduce economic inactivity through skills, training, incentives and job creation.
  • The levy on single use carrier bags DOE promised for implementation by 2013 is extended to “reusable bags from 1 April 2014”.
  • One DOE commitment has been completely reworded to quantify its target: “reduce the environmental impacts from the waste we generate” is now expressed as “achieve a household recycling or composting rate of 45% by the end of March 2015”.
  • The idea of hosting a significant international golf event remains a DETI commitment but is now in addition to supporting the successful hosting of the 2012 Irish Open.
  • There’s a new DHSSPS commitment to “introduce a package of measures aimed at improving Safeguarding Outcomes for Children and Vulnerable Adults” and will include the production of “Ireland and produce a joint Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy” and the opening of a “new Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Antrim Area Hospital”.
  • The draft DENI commitment to “increase the proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who achieve at least 5 GCSE’s at A*-C” has lost its butcher’s apostrophe and been extended to all pupils (not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds) and is now “by the time they leave school”.
  • Literacy and numeracy levels will now be tackled with “additional support” from DENI rather than “additional resources”.
  • There’s an additional commitment from DSD “to have implemented new structures to support the improved delivery of housing services to the citizens of Northern Ireland” by the end of 2014/15.
  • And there’s a final new commitment from DETI to “develop and implement a Financial Capability Strategy for consumers”.


  • There is dubious enough environmental reason to levy plastic bags other than as a revenue earner, but to extend this to “reusable bags from 1 April 2014” is even more questionable. How is a reusable bag defined? Is a handbag reusable under this definition? Isn’t a briefcase reusable? What’s the reach?

    All the above is just evidence that the document released initially was rushed and the intervening period has permitted a departmental tidy-up.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    The wording has been beefed up in many places. An example is the first DETI commitment which used to say “support the promotion of over 25,000 new jobs” but has now been amplified to say “contribute to rising levels of employment by supporting the promotion of over 25,000 new jobs”.

    What is the qualitative difference between these two statements?

  • Scáth Shéamais – ‘support’ sounds like it’s their target to hit or miss. ‘contribute to … by supporting’ sounds like it’s someone else’s target but they’ll do their bit. They ‘beefed up’ the wording, and perhaps ‘watered down’ the commitment at the same time?!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Alan, great comparison, a few interesting changes, like what is the diference in “a stratedgy for integrated and affordable childcare” and “a childcare stratedgy with key actions to provide integration and affordability”?

    Would like to work out which targets are already well on the way, which are achievable and which are pie in the sky!

  • Drumlins Rock – The final section of the PfG report breaks down each commitment into 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 actions … however, these are mostly only a sentence long. I imagine that each department will have more fulsome action plans in place that may be FOIable …

  • 82 commitments in the document – but not one key commitment regarding the Irish language, the enactment of an Acht Ghaeilge or the implementation of an Irish language strategy?
    I thought things couldn’t get worse when Edwin Poots and co had the Culture Ministry. Now I realise that SF in charge of culture was a huge mistake. They don’t have a notion….

  • FuturePhysicist

    £400 from Indigenous Businesses … should we laugh, cry or celebrate?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Concubhar, I agree with you … with a Sinn Féin minister and an Alliance justice minister the act should have some momentum. In this circumstance specific the urgent priority I would mention as Culture minister is the encouragement and sponsorship of Irish Language Apps.