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Logjam 'to blame for cash pressures on public services'

By Noel McAdam

Published 29/10/2015

Stormont ministers have been accused of "irresponsibility" after mothballing crunch financial decisions for months.

Unspent departmental cash has been effectively frozen since June as a result of Stormont stagnation and the ongoing inter-party talks.

It means hospitals, schools, policing and roads maintenance - among other services - are being denied access to potentially millions of pounds left unspent by government departments.

The most recent departmental monitoring round for October has not even got under way - because ministers have still not made decisions about the last redistribution of cash in June.

Alliance, which has two ministers on the Executive, hit out. "To find ourselves at the end of October, with neither the June or October monitoring rounds completed, is a wholly irresponsible and unsustainable position."

The Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) told the Belfast Telegraph that departments are not in imminent danger of running out of cash.

But it also confirmed: "The Executive has not yet considered the second June Monitoring paper which would have sought decisions in relation to the significant pressures identified by departments.

"In light of that, an October Monitoring round has not been commissioned."

The Ulster Unionists said the response of DFP was "couched in terms that ignore the actual implications of the continued failure to balance the books, namely the pressures being applied to front line services, not least health, where a fifth of the population find themselves on waiting lists."

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