One of the biggest business organisations in Northern Ireland has called on the Stormont Executive to ramp up the pace of public service reform so as to help rebalance the economy.
The CBI said that while Stormont has begun to "re-engineer service delivery", as set out in the Programme for Government, there was still much that it needs to do to ensure a more efficient public sector and to deliver a Northern Ireland economic offering among the best in the world.
"We've seen some positive action but the hard yards are still to be made," Jackie Henry, chair of the CBI's Public Services Reform Committee said. "But we're ready to roll the sleeves up and help get things done."
Ms Henry was speaking ahead of today's launch of the CBI's report entitled 'Moving up a gear – Assessing the pace of public service in Northern Ireland'.
It expressed concern at the slow progress of several of the reform programmes, most notably a lack of change on school transport costs, no reversal on policies like free prescriptions and free travel for over 60s, a lack of education sector reform, still management-heavy public sector departments and no movement on the introduction of water or road charging.
And it said the Executive needs to show that it's serious about wanting to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy by opening up public services to competition, highlighting that there appears to be political concerns regarding outsourcing and only small cost-saving measures have been introduced to the government estate.
The CBI's report is a follow-up to its 2010 'Time for Action' publication which called for the re-engineering of delivery in four specific areas of public service – health, education, housing and policing and justice.
"The Executive needs to find better ways and means to deliver public services that achieve better value for taxpayers' money and which can also lead to job creation," CBI Northern Ireland Chairman Ian Coulter said.
"While some progress is apparent, we fear that it does not prepare Northern Ireland adequately enough for the continued fiscal challenges post-2015.
"Our subvention from Westminster has risen from £6.3bn in 2006-7 to £10.5bn in 2010-11. This is simply unsustainable and faster change is needed."
Areas in public sector CBI has focused on
Year of CBI's last report called 'Time for Action' £10.5bn
Westminster's subvention in 2010-11