Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

DUP Economy Minister Simon Hamilton won't name those who got cash in green grants scandal

By Noel McAdam

Published 04/11/2016

Refusal: Simon Hamilton
Refusal: Simon Hamilton

The identity of people who received money under a botched Stormont grants scheme are to be kept under wraps, it has emerged.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton will not reveal the full list of those who benefited from the heavily criticised multi-million pound renewable heat incentive scheme scandal.

TUV leader Jim Allister asked what the Executive was afraid of after the DUP minister said he would not publish a list of recipients.

Mr Allister said he hoped that in time the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Audit Office will reveal the full scale of the "taxpayer rip-off".

"Just what does the Executive have to hide that it can't publish the recipients of the most bungled and costly scheme that Stormont ever produced?" the North Antrim MLA said.

"At the heart of the problem lies a distinct lack of ministerial oversight dating back to (First Minister) Arlene Foster's time in DETI, which let the scheme get out of control.

"This was a job botched in Stormont. Westminster had set the template with a cap on the number of hours at premium rate, but Stormont didn't bother to apply it.

"I trust the Audit Office and the PAC will lay bare the scale of the taxpayer rip-off."

Mr Hamilton said: "I have no plans to publish, or place in the Assembly Library, a full list of beneficiaries from the renewable heat incentive scheme." Approached for further comment by the Belfast Telegraph, the Economy Minister said: "My department is unable to make public the details of individuals, as to do so would breach the first principle of the Data Protection Act 1998."

Mr Allister also asked Mr Hamilton to outline the mechanisms in place for ministerial oversight of the renewable heat incentive scheme since its introduction.

His written Assembly reply said: "Ministerial responsibilities for the renewable heat incentive scheme since its introduction have included approving the policy and business case and securing Assembly approval to the necessary legislation.

"Responsibility for the detailed design and ongoing oversight of the scheme rests with departmental officials and Ofgem as the scheme administrator."

MLAs demanded "heads should roll" over the scheme after the Audit Office concluded in July that "serious systematic failings" were likely to cost "hundreds of millions of pounds".

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph