We want to hear about blatant, flagrant waste of tax-payers’ money – and we’ll expose it here on PolicyNI.
The Executive argues that it hasn’t enough money. But that’s hardly surprising when we have 12 central government departments and 26 councils – all to run a place with a population less than Greater Manchester. Never mind the myriad quangos, job creation agencies, community groups – all paid for by the public purse.
Waste is endemic in our systems of administration. While the argument is often made that public spending is required for “front line services” a substantial share of public spending in Northern Ireland is on fat cat bosses and bizarre state financed organisations – as well as pensions for former employees. The biggest single line-item of public spend here spend is on pensions. So while private sector workers and small business owners have often failed to make provision for their own pensions – they have made very adequate provision for senior civil servants, retired doctors, policemen, prison officers. Some 30% of Northern Ireland’s entire public expenditure of around £20 Billion goes on pensions. But a similar amount goes on a general category of spend for everything outside of healthcare, pensions, and education. So while welfare claimants get all the media attention as the main source of waste, little attention is paid to the quangos with senior executives and Board members paid hundreds of thousands per annum – and no real accountability for performance. Indeed welfare payments only account for some 11% of public spend here – certainly not the main source of flagrant waste.
The media’s performance at exposing the extent of the public-purse get-rich-quick schemes has improved markedly. But we’re sure that more could be done. If you can point us at examples of flagrant waste, pointless job creation schemes, absurd wage levels for senior executives in quangos, or eye-watering pension packages, please let us know.