Belfast Telegraph

Executive bonus bill tops £600,000

More than £600,000 has been paid in bonuses to civil servants working in Executive departments in less than a year, new figures have revealed.

Around 2,200 employees received payments in the first 11 months of the last financial year.

While the Department of Social Development had the biggest outlay - paying £216,560 to 841 staff members - the Department of the Environment made no bonus payments over the same period.

The figures were provided by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson to the SDLP's Pat Ramsey in a written Assembly question. They indicate that there has been no substantial reduction in the overall amount spent on bonuses from last year.

Around £660,000 was spent in 2010/11 across the 12 Executive departments with the bill for 2011/12 sitting at £640,000 with one month's outlay still to be added.

Those figures do not include the £35,000 in bonuses paid to 213 civil servants working in the Public Prosecution Service in 2011/12 thus far - around the same amount that was paid out by the PPS the year before. Foyle MLA Mr Ramsey said he was appalled by the scale of the total bill.

He claimed Environment Minister Alex Attwood, his party colleague, was the only member of the Executive who was showing a good example by halting bonus payments. The Assembly member said it was not acceptable that the "bonus culture" was being allowed to continue in other departments.

"The largest tranche of bonuses is within the Department of Social Development, with £216,560 followed by the Department of Finance, with a massive bill of £146,693 - these are the two Departments within the Executive that are implementing large parts of a budget that is and will continue to hurt the most vulnerable in our society," he said.

"It is simply unacceptable and I have written to the Finance Minister today to ask him to halt all discretionary spending on bonuses for civil servants across all Departments and follow the example of Alex Attwood in putting all available monies towards front line services."

A DSD spokeswoman said: "The NICS special bonus scheme is a long established scheme which allows departments the discretion to reward exceptional public service in particularly demanding tasks or situations. As the largest department with over 7000 employees, 841 awards were made averaging £217 and no award exceeded £1000."

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