“This is just the latest example of the (First) Minister(s) failing to spend monies…”

A slight variation on Alex Maskey’s excoriation of Nelson McCausland for failing to spend a cool £26 million in his housing budget last year. [Tail gunner out of control captain! – Ed]  Did no one tell Alex his own party  in OFMdFM failed to spend a single penny of £80 million on actual social need in the two years since the last election.

Nearly 1/2 million is already gone on consultants, and they are handing back £15 million unspent. Deadlocked over whether it is to go to Catholics or Protestants, apparently. David McNarry with the shaming details yesterday in Stormont:

David McNarry MLA, UKIP Leader in Northern Ireland, revealed that £389,847 from the Social Investment Fund has gone to consultants and not a penny has gone to the community.

Mr McNarry said : “ I asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail the outlay of funding from the Social Investment Fund to date; and to list the parties in receipt of those funds.” (AQW 26377/11-15) The answer surprised me to say the least. It appears £389,847 from the Social Investment Fund has gone to consultants. These are RSM McClure Waters, Wallace Consulting, Deloitte, Copious Consulting and the Central procurement Directorate. Not a penny has gone to the community.”

“It gets even worse. The £80 million originally set aside for the Social Investment Fund has been reduced to £60 million with £15 million capital not being required in this financial year. The OFMdFM website proudly announces ‘The Social Investment Fund (SIF) was set up to deliver social change. It aims to make life better for people living in targeted areas by reducing poverty, unemployment and physical deterioration. The fund will run until March 2016 and has been allocated £80 million by the Northern Ireland Executive.’ What a disappointment. Are they really telling us that there is no need for urgent spending on poverty and unemployment?”

Pity the poor old press office at OFMdFM who judging by an official statement on the BBC News site are not being told the exact details of how matters will proceed from here:

“We understand that OFMDFM is in the process of reprofiling the funding requirements associated with the Social Investment Fund and it will be for the executive to consider the implications of that work”

Jude seems happy to blame the DUP on the basis that Sinn Fein have said they want the money to be directed according to need, and erm, the DUP have said nothing (though they have initiated a discussion on social development this afternoon at Stormont.

Well, he has a valid point. £80 million in investment cash is a lot of money to sit on for two years with no explanation forthcoming.  Although I’d want see something a little more than a soundbite to substantiate why OFMdFM have taken all this time to get precisely nowhere in all of that time.

Speaking almost a year ago Jeffrey Donaldson when talking about the Social Investment Fund noted that:

The public and political will is too often frustrated or killed by process or procedure. This is not unique to Northern Ireland but commonplace across Western democracies.

When an elected official is less able to act on the public will the motivation for the public to vote declines. Northern Ireland should be in the vanguard of pushing back against this. We must reduce the bureaucracy and rebuild the power of democratic politics.”[emphasis added]

Best bet is that the money has been snaffled by that attritional grind of process favoured by both of Northern Ireland’s biggest parties in which journeying fruitlessly matters more than ever arriving.

,

  • 241934 john brennan

    On a point of interest – was this the so called “slush fund” agreed by SF/DUP, which the smaller parties feared would not be properly accounted for, and which might be directed towards local community groups, staffed by ex-paramilitaries?

  • Morpheus

    “Official data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) shows that 16 of the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland are Catholic, while only six of the least deprived wards are Catholic.”

    And we wonder why the money wasn’t allocated? Investment in Catholic areas would add to the idiotic ‘themmuns get everything and we get nuttin’ so we do” mentality.

    Where the hell are SF and the SDLP in all this?

  • Mick Fealty

    SDLP? Like the other non OFMdFM parties are having their legislation booby trapped for them by said OFMdFM parties, no?

  • Morpheus

    £80m for social investment on the line and not a whimper from anyone on the hill is completely unacceptable. The people on the streets suffer because of political ineptitude once again.

  • iluvni

    Did I really hear some SDLP goon saying that if the money can’t be spent here in NI, steps should be taken to spend it further afield?

  • fordprefect

    “We understand that OFMDFM is in the process of reprofiling the funding requirements associated with the Social Investment Fund and it will be for the executive to consider the implications of that work”

    What the F*** does that mean????????? I saw on teletext the other day about this malarkey and was wondering why there was nothing on the tv “news” about it. I totally agree with the last comment made on Mick’s post, about fruitlessly journeying etc. I give up with this F****** place!

  • ForkHandles

    seems there’s loads of money around to waste on an Irish language act, so why not do one to keep those folks happy?

  • In the old days, this money would have been handed over to a community and voluntary sector organisation, and they would have asked groups to apply for it. It might have gone via NICVA, the Community Foundation, or the EU office.

    That was not always perfect, but they had an incentive to distribute the loot quickly and do something with it.

    The point is to quickly get the money out of the hands of politicians and civil servants, as both have incentives to delay.

  • sherdy

    Has Robbo sent another letter that I haven’t been aware of?

  • Rapunsell

    Read the story on the detail site yesterday. For me it was telling that not one critic in community organisations was prepared to voice concerns other than anonymously. Whats to be concluded from that?Fear of retribution by not getting any cash? Cowardice? And does it potentially tell us something about our political class and their reactiin to criticism?

  • Morpheus

    Let’s take a step back here – firstly this £80m for social development, an under-spend in Social Development of £31m, an under-spend in The Housing Executive of £35m. Remind me again, who are top of the list when it comes to the most socially deprived wards, who are top of the list when it comes to social housing and who is in charge of Social Development again?

  • Mick Fealty

    Rapunsell,

    Ya think?

    Morpheus,

    Feel free to join up those dots for us?

  • Neil

    In the words of Eamonn McCann McCausland is a ‘sectarian disgrace’ Mick. I think that’s what the fella’s driving at. It should come as no surprise that with a societal head start up until 30 years ago Unionist areas still have an edge over Nationalist areas, which they do it’s not in dispute.

    Unionists want to split the money 50:50, and are prepared to prevent anyone getting any money, including the 20% of the most deprived areas which are Unionist if they don’t get their way. Just waiting to see if anyone can come up with any kind of reason for not dispersing the cash on the basis of need, over and above the sectarian zero sum game.

  • SDLP supporter

    Wonder what the £80 million could have been spent on?

    AFAIK the deprivation indices for wards in NI were first measured in 1971 and have been measured based on the census data every decade since. That’s forty years. Yet the most deprived wards in 1971 are still the most deprived in 2011 (give or take a few exceptions), after all the hundreds of millions poured in from the UK Exchequer, MBW, EU Peace Funds, Special Support Programmes, Delors, etc.

    It is legitimate to ask what are the measurable outcomes of all the money spentother than creating a cadre of mostly ex-paramilitary “community workers” swanning around doing sweet fu*k all.

    The poorly performing schools are still poorly performing, etc. though the SF Education Ministers are determined to ‘disappear’ any vestige of performance data.

    Fortunately, enough parents are savvy enough to vote with their feet and divert their children away from the problem schools.

    The forty year bonanza of money from London, America, Brussels, Dublin or wherever is coming to an end. The funding caravan has run its course, for all the good it has done in many areas, and the internecine viciousness and squabbling between the DUP and Sinn Fein over the shrinking pot of gold will only get worse.

  • Reader

    Neil: Just waiting to see if anyone can come up with any kind of reason for not dispersing the cash on the basis of need, over and above the sectarian zero sum game.
    Obviously, if the money was spent on addressing need, then it should be disbursed accordingly. However, if it was spent buying paramilitary ex-cons into acquiescence, then the natural distribution will be different, and the Sinn Fein argument looks a bit self-serving.
    What has been achieved by the money spent so far?

  • Morpheus

    Join the dots Mick? I think he-who-creeps-the-bejesus-outta-everyone would rather see the money go back to The Exchequer than sign a cheque which would see investment go into a Catholic area and SF/SDLP are either have a shady deal which allows it or too stupid to realize.

    Bring on direct rule I say

  • BarneyT

    It’s a long game. SF are provoking and exposing the blatant sectarianism that we know rifles through the evangelists in the tuv and dup. That’s not to say it does not exist elsewhere but it’s pronounced in the above. SF know how to press their buttons. The failure to spend on deprived loyalist communities will not be lost on many so sf ask and demand knowing they won’t get but the egg will be on dup faces. The pups ought to pick up on this and weaken the dup sufficiently to allow sf into FM position. Just a thought

  • Mick Fealty

    Which seats are going PUP Barney?

  • “This is just the latest example of the (First) Minister(s) failing to spend monies…”

    It’s also worth checking out how the Department of Education is allocating its funds. The voluntary grammar schools have done very well as have the grant maintained integrated schools, the secondary schools have done poorly and there’s not a bean for the controlled grammar school sector in the Schools Enhancement Programme. As the latter comes under the various Education and Library Boards perhaps they will absorb some of the flak that will be directed at the minister.

    One curious feature is that the primary, post-primary and special school ministerial list appears to have been randomised. Another is that the money is being offered to post-primary schools in advance of the completion of the area planning process.