Governing without government: the consequences

A new report from Pivotal, the independent think tank focused on Northern Ireland, finds that a local “governance gap” means an absence of proper decision–making amidst a budget crisis, leaving public services to deteriorate. A lack of strategic planning means services are stuck in a “vicious cycle, where problems are growing and our ability to tackle those problems is shrinking”.

Civil servants have been in charge of running government departments for more than 10 months, but their powers are limited. They are unable to make any major or significant changes, so are constrained in how they can tailor local public services to ongoing challenges. At the same time, funding is extremely tight – and this is made worse by an inability to get the most out of the cash that is available, according to a new report.

Officials have found it impossible to keep within successive yearly budgets set by the Secretary of State. Despite making cuts of around £1 billion, a further £1 billion of unfunded spending pressures remains this year. Overspending is set to be deducted from future funding allocations.

The latest paper from Pivotal shows how Northern Ireland’s lack of decision–making is increasing the nature and scale of local problems both now and in the future.

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