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Civil Service changes must deliver better services

12 October, 2004


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy commenting on the announcement to reduce the number of civil servants to provide greater expenditure on front line services has said that there are concerns that politically driven cuts in civil service numbers will not deliver better services.

Mr Molloy said:

"It is vital that commitments to increase overall expenditure are maintained. We need to see greater investment in our infrastructure and greater investment in front line staff. Ian Pearson's announcement today will be judged against that benchmark.

"However, I share concerns that politically driven job cuts will actually impact on services. It is vital that where job cuts are identified that there is clear evidence that it will not impact on services and will generate real savings that can support expenditure in front line services.

"It is also important that while Ian Pearson talks about moving 5,000 civil servants out of government departments over the next 5 years that we ensure that there is proper training and support to help civil servants finds alternative employment. It is also important that employees transferred into another body such as Agri-Food and Biosciences bodies that their rights are fully protected.

"Our economy remains over reliant on public sector employment. Changes of this scale will undoubtedly have major consequences for our economy. However, if savings can be transferred to front line services - and not spent on expensive consultants - then it is vital that there are more resources for more nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals, as well as more teachers and classroom assistants.

"It should also being recognised that central to these proposals are the introduction of water taxes and huge increases in rates. In short we will be paying more. It is vital that there is clear evidence that we will be getting better services and not merely allowing the British Treasury off the hook. People should not lose sight of the fact that through water taxes and rates increases we will be paying for borrowing under the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative and an expansion of Private Finance Initiatives despite growing evidence that they do not deliver value for money.

"We are being asked to pay more and more with out any guarantee that we will be getting more and more. Yet 10 years into the peace process the British government has failed to deliver a genuine peace dividend. It is vital that we now see the colour of the British governments money in terms of living up to its commitment to the peace process." ENDS

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