Ulster Unionist MLA, Mike Nesbitt, has revealed that in the 2017-18 financial year, £2.4million received in Northern Ireland through Barnett Consequentials relating to EU Exit was not spent on Brexit preparations. The information came to light in a letter he received from Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling.
Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“While I think that the public already recognises that we are not very prepared for Brexit, I am somewhat surprised by this response from David Sterling. Even with the caveat of the Barnett Consequential money being received at a late stage, I cannot believe that not a single penny was spent in the last financial year on EU Exit preparations.
“It seems bizarre that they would not have either had something in the pipeline or attempted to at least spend some of the money on EU Exit. Given the anxiety out there at the moment amongst the business, community and voluntary sectors could they not have hosted engagement sessions to try and allay fears? Perhaps they could have commissioned academic research to broaden knowledge of the expected impacts and options available?
“The fact that Northern Ireland is currently in a state of political paralysis during the biggest period of political flux since the Second World War is bad enough. We must be able to have confidence that money coming to Northern Ireland through Barnett Consequential as a result of EU Exit related allocations is being spent to ensure that the region of the UK which stands to be effected most is at least on some level prepared for our exit in March 2019.”