Government Efficiencies Should Not Harm Key Services

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 22 June 2010

Reference: F&P 08/09/10

Efficiency savings across the NI public sector can be made without harming essential public services and strategic policy priorities. That is the message from the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel which launched the findings of its preliminary Inquiry into Public Sector Efficiencies.

Speaking ahead of the Assembly debate, Committee Chairperson, Jennifer McCann MLA, said : “My Committee does not underestimate the scale of the challenge facing the Executive. The recently announced savings and anticipated budgetary reduction for 2011-2014 will require a further efficiency drive.

This must be accompanied by an equally important focus on effectiveness in delivering public services. “It is our view that the Executive should develop a co-ordinated strategy to protect essential frontline services and strategic policy priorities, and avoid crude ‘salami slicing’ of all departmental budgets.

“We believe that there must be more transparency in this process. It is vital that the money saving initiatives are more than just cuts to the quality or level of important services. It is also essential that the impact of these savings is visible and clearly understood by both the Assembly and the public.

“Real public sector efficiency gains in the medium and long term will help us to minimise and manage potential pressures on expenditure in the years ahead.

“My Committee colleagues and I believe that this report is a useful starting point for discussion. It is a positive contribution to the debate about ensuring that the public sector uses public money efficiently.”

The Report contains more than 25 recommendations for the Northern Ireland Executive and the Department of Finance and Personnel.

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