Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Gauntlet thrown down on funding

A senior trade unionist has thrown down the gauntlet to the Assembly on its use of public money — including the £8m a year expenses system

Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, contrasted the figure with the £370m spending cuts facing the Executive in 2010/11.

He also cited the £1bn spent over the last seven years on Invest NI, the quango that had its record seriously questioned in an official review published this week.

And pressure group the Taxpayers' Alliance commended the Assembly on opting for full disclosure of expenses. Political director Susie Squire said: “That fact MLAs have claimed for everything from TVs to weedkiller is evidence that the system is in need of reform.”

The decision to reveal full details of expenses was taken by the cross-party Assembly Commission that is chaired by Speaker William Hay.

In a statement issued with the disclosed material, Mr Hay said: “We understand that people want to know how public money is being spent and to reassure themselves that it is being used effectively and efficiently.

“Improving transparency does not stop here. We are in the process of making all expenses from 2003 available on the Northern Ireland Assembly website from the end of November 2009.”

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