Clarity needed on cross-departmental collaboration for managing budget, says Armstrong

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has called on the head of the Civil Service to explain why cross-departmental plans to manage the budget are not being clarified, and has outlined the importance of restoring Stormont for achieving housing targets in particular.

Communities Kellie Armstrong

The Strangford MLA has said “With the outgoing Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure finally producing the list of roads not being progressed for development, we can see the kind of difficult decisions civil servants are having to make, and how they can actually hinder growth in Northern Ireland.


“For example, for years the Department for Infrastructure has not provided NI Water with the necessary investment to provide waste water treatment services. This means the capacity for new housing targets set by the Department for Communities will not be available, such as what I’ve seen in my own Strangford constituency, with restrictions on new builds in areas like Killyleagh and Saintfield.


“How many more areas will see new housing targets culled due to lack of capacity and investment in treating waste water? This places particular pressure on people who are homeless and in housing stress, who will be unable to access appropriate homes.


“We all know the best place for cross-departmental working is around an Executive table, managed by appointed ministers. However, while the outdated veto system remains allowing successive government collapses, NI will continue to see these kinds of measures having to be taken by civil servants. For this to change on a long-term basis we need to see reform of how government is delivered here.


“Working together is the only way to manage this funding crisis. We need clarity on how Permanent Secretaries have collaborated to ensure repercussions of a cut in one department does not have a devastating impact in another. We all deserve to see how budget decisions have been taken to make the most effective use of money.”