‘Local Government’s eleven councils costing more and employing more staff than when we had 26 Councils’ – Allister

Jim Allister

NORTHERN Ireland’s eleven local councils are ‘costing more and employing more staff than when we had 26 Councils,’ North Antrim Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister has revealed.

He said: “A big part of the rationale cited for cutting the number of local councils from 26 to 11 was the promise that doing so would result in huge savings over time.

“As Environment Minister Edwin Poots repeatedly claimed that local government reform would result in a long term saving, over 25 years, of £438 million in return for investing £118 million.

“Five years in to operation how is that working out? In response to written questions I have established that the average number of employees in local government has grown by 346 since the last full year in which the 26 council model was operating. Similarly, the cost of running councils has grown rather than reduced.

“I was always sceptical about the potential of reducing the number of councils to result in huge savings but even I am surprised that the number of staff has increased by over 300.

“In light of these figures many will feel that local government reform was sold to them on the basis of a false prospectus.”

Mr Allister’s says the questions and the responses received were as follows:

Question: To ask the Minister for Communities (i) what was the total cost of running the former 26 local councils in their last full year of operation?; and (ii) what was the total cost of running the current 11 local councils in the last year for which figures are available?

Answer: The total cost of running councils is taken as meaning the net cost of services as disclosed in the annual accounts for councils, which is also the figure submitted to the Office of National Statistics in council expenditure returns.

The total net cost of services for 26 councils in 2014-15 was £742,298k.

The total net cost of services for 11 councils in 2018-19 was £790,994k.

Question: To ask the Minister for Communities (i) what was the total staffing compliment of the former 26 local councils in their last full year of operation?; and (ii) what is the total staffing compliment of the current 11 local councils?

Answer: The total staffing complement is taken as meaning the average number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees as disclosed in the annual accounts for councils.

The total average number of employees (FTE) for 26 councils in 2014-15 was 9,790.

The total average number of employees (FTE) in 2018-19 was 10,136.

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