Proper Engagement on Budget Necessary
Date: Thursday, 11 March 2010
Reference: F&P 05/09/10
Assembly Committees must be given the opportunity to engage with their Departments over budget proposals. That’s the key message coming from the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel which today published its response to the Executive’s Review of 2010-11 Spending Plans for NI Departments in a report co-ordinated on behalf of the Assembly’s scrutiny committees.
The Committee Chairperson, Jennifer McCann, said: “The Committee welcomes the Executive’s proactive approach in seeking to manage the public expenditure pressures totalling £367m in 2010-11. That said, the Committee raised concerns at the level and range of emerging pressures as far back as October 2008. The requirement for a mini-Budget at this time reflects the need to establish a formal budget process going forward, which will maximise the contribution from elected representatives in the Assembly and from the wider public.
“The Committee is extremely disappointed that detailed spending proposals were not made available by all departments, and seven out of eleven Assembly Committees expressed some level of dissatisfaction at the information their Department provided to them. This seriously inhibits Committees when carrying out their scrutiny role. The Committee for Finance and Personnel has identified a range of measures to improve engagement on budgetary issues and avoid a recurrence of this situation.
“In the current economic climate it is essential that the best possible return is achieved for available resources. In this respect, the Committee will also be reporting to the Assembly shortly on the outcome of its detailed investigation on the drive for greater public sector efficiency and effectiveness.”
Notes to Editors:
The Review of 2010-11 Spending Plans for NI Departments was announced by the Minister of Finance and Personnel on 12 January 2010. The consultation document on the revised expenditure proposals is available on the Programme for Government website: http://www.pfgbudgetni.gov.uk/
Information about the Committee
The Committee for Finance and Personnel is one of the statutory committees established by the Northern Ireland Assembly on 9 May 2007.
As per paragraph 9 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement, Statutory Committees have the power to:
- consider and advise on departmental budgets and annual plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
- approve relevant secondary legislation and take the Committee stage of relevant primary legislation;
- call for persons and papers;
- initiate inquiries and make reports; and,
- consider and advise on matters brought to the Committee by its Minister.
Jennifer McCann (Chairperson) (Sinn Fein)
Peter Weir (Deputy Chairperson) (DUP)
Dr Stephen Farry (Alliance)
Simon Hamilton (DUP)
Fra McCann (Sinn Fein)
Mitchel McLaughlin (Sinn Fein)
David McNarry (UUP)
Adrian McQuillan (DUP)
Declan O’Loan (SDLP)
Ian Paisley Jnr (DUP)
Dawn Purvis (PUP)
Further information on the work of the Committee is available on the Committee pages of the Northern Ireland Assembly website: archive.niassembly.gov.uk