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Nesbitt welcomes adoption of key Audit Office recommendation after SIF report

Mike Nesbitt MLA has welcomed news that the Department of Finance is to implement a key recommendation from the NI Audit Office’s report into the Social Investment fund (SIF). 

Earlier this month, the Audit Office published a damning report into the £93 million fund designed to tackle poverty, dereliction and deprivation. A key recommendation was to bring advice on Managing Public Money into line with guidance in England.

Mike Nesbitt said:

“HM Treasury updated advice on Managing Public Money in England some years ago, meaning departmental Accounting Officers can ask Ministers to give them written instructions to proceed in circumstances where there is significant doubt about the feasibility of a project, including whether it can be delivered accurately, sustainably and on time. In SIF’s case, there are question marks against all three categories which could have been addressed if the Managing Public Money NI advice was updated.

“I wrote to Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance, to encourage her to accept the recommendation from the Audit Office and today she has responded to say that while all recommendations from the report are under consideration, she is going to press ahead to implement this recommendation ahead of the full response.

“I take this as an acknowledgement that SIF was a good idea badly managed by the Executive Office, without the proper checks and balances to ensure tax payers’ money was being spent in an appropriate manner. 

“I am glad that lessons are being learned within the Civil Service.   I can only hope the DUP and Sinn Fein will also reflect on their handling of the Fund and the criticism they handed out to other parties who raised concerns from the outset.”

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