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Free efficiency advice ignored by Stormont ministers

Cash-strapped Stormont departments have failed to use a specialist Government unit offering free efficiency expertise, it has been revealed.

And the “poor” uptake has prompted another sideswipe from minister Sammy Wilson at Assembly colleagues.

The Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) was launched as a major Department of Finance initiative in September 2007.

But Mr Wilson has told MLAs that PEDU has so far only undertaken such “substantive work” with two departments.

These involved the Planning Service — part of the Department of the Environment and Land and Property Services, an agency of the Department of Finance.

Mr Wilson said: “I must record that I find it more than a little ironic for ministerial colleagues to publicly protest about the difficulties in implementing efficiencies while maintaining service levels when they have not utilised this free source of expertise.”

The Finance Minister also stated: “I would again emphasise that the unit represents an opportunity, rather than a threat, and would encourage all ministerial colleagues to consider utilisation of this valuable resource particularly as we move forward in a constrained public expenditure environment.”

He further stated that PEDU's work with the two Government

wings had produced “material improvements” in both cases.

“Despite the poor take-up by departments of the support available from PEDU, I remain committed to the opportunity it affords,” the minister said.

Mr Wilson's remarks on PEDU came in a written Assembly answer published yesterday.

Last week, the DUP minister criticised MLAs demanding additional spending despite deepening public expenditure cuts.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, he said: “The kind of concepts I imagine most households have grasped now seem to elude people in the Assembly.”

Stormont's cross-party Finance Committee has also expressed its disappointment “at the low level of uptake of the PEDU services by departments to date”.

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