Department of Finance release advice to the Minister over the Bedroom Tax

There was a dispute between the Finance Minister and the Communities Minister over whether mitigation payments could be made to the 34,000 homes who would be impacted by the introduction of the Bedroom Tax in Northern Ireland. Although advice from officials within the department argue that provisions already exist to bring these mitigations in. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Sinn Fein decides to bin Mr Wilson’s dodgy estimates (and one of its key pro #borderpoll arguments)…

Just in passing… Absentee Westminster MP Conor Murphy on the unreliability of Sammy Wilson’s estimates: “Mr Wilson insists that the methodology used to produce his figures is identical to those used for Scotland and that they are international standards for the compiling of statistics and have to be adhered to and are subject to a degree of rigour and international scrutiny. He fails to add that when Scotland launched a robust challenge to this methodology it was admitted by British …

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Pay your rates by credit card: you pay 2% extra. Pay by debit card: LPS pay 29p.

Northern Ireland ratepayers choosing to pay their rates bills by credit card contributed around £32,000 to Santander last year. How do you pay your rates? Pay the whole year off up front and get the small discount? Pay monthly? Direct debit? Post Office? Or maybe you put on your credit card? Increasingly, government bodies are offering online card payment as an option for tax collection and bill payment. But just like booking a flight, there’s a surcharge. You pay dearly …

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McCusker review of Pollock allegations published

The report by Tony McCusker, examining the allegations made against Department of Justice civil servants by Sam Pollock when he resigned as Chief Executive at the NI Police Ombudsman, has been published by the NI Justice Minister, David Ford.  Tony McCusker’s report is available here [pdf file]. As the report states at the outset It is important to note that the Chief Executive did not at any time allege that the NIO or the DOJ had interfered in the investigative side …

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NI Water: Why did MacKenzie break up NIW’s commercial review team?

With the inclusion of a submission to the PAC from Contracting Out, the NI Audit Office team will almost certainly spotlight NI Water’s customer service and IT contract with Steria Ltd. Not least since this is the only part of the initial controversy that substantially touches on the value for money issue. For all the accusations flowing in the direction of the sacked NEDs, it is important to note that Mr MacKenzie was given a detailed briefing on his arrival in …

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Ritchie/Attwood’s ministerial failure a blessing in disguise?

With the announcement of spending cuts of £128m from the Assembly’s budget, Sammy Wilson had stated his intention to offset the loses in part with Departmental underspends. “We knew [this] was coming down the line and when departments surrender money through the year, as inevitably they do, we can maybe use some of that to offset these cuts that have been imposed on us,” Mr Wilson said. Now DSD has declared a halt to plans to develop the Donegall Street …

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