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Invest NI criticised for spending £443,000 on hospitality

Published 21/12/2015

Jim Allister criticised the amount spent
Jim Allister criticised the amount spent

A jobs creation agency spent almost half a million pounds last year on hospitality.

TUV leader Jim Allister said it was excessive and called for Invest NI to broaden its efforts to bring employment to all parts of Northern Ireland.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said its corporate hospitality spending had reduced and was carefully managed.

Mr Allister said: "While it is welcome that the hospitality costs have dropped since I asked about this issue last year £443,000 still strikes me as an excessive sum.

"This is particularly the case when one considers that Invest NI has failed to show a desire much less an ability to bring employment to all parts of Northern Ireland.

"In Belfast the spend by Invest NI per head of population was £452; Ballymoney a mere £62 and in Moyle a derisory £34. Yet, Invest NI pretends it is even-handed. Patently, it is not."

Invest NI helps establish and expand small businesses and is responsible for attracting foreign direct investment.

As of September 2015 it had helped promote over 39,000 new jobs across Northern Ireland since 2011.

A spokeswoman said: "Invest NI's corporate hospitality spend, a key part of our sales and marketing activity to attract inward investments, is carefully managed and has reduced in recent years.

"It is easy for Mr Allister to repeatedly claim neglect or bias, however we would challenge him to adopt a more proactive approach to supporting economic development in his constituency by helping identify investors or supporting local businesses to seek our support.

"It is natural to see differing levels of support in different areas as Invest NI's role is to help those businesses that come forward with a business plan and can demonstrate a need for our support, a task given to us by the Executive and agreed by the Assembly."

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