Northern Ireland

Stormont finance committee attacks draft budget

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Image caption The budget is intended to save £4bn by the end of 2014-15

The Stormont finance committee has strongly criticised the draft budget.

In its formal response, the committee has said the executive should have delivered the budget, which was announced in December, sooner.

It said that from as early as last June departments had "ample opportunity" to prepare spending and savings plans.

The budget is intended to save £4bn over the next four years. Earlier this month, a report compiled by PWC said it was a "patch and mend" approach.

The committee has also been extremely critical of the "repeated failure" of a majority of departments to engage with their respective scrutiny committees.

It said the budget fails to explain clearly the rationale behind how funding was allocated and which strategy dictated how cuts were applied.

The PWC analysis said it was encouraging that the Executive had agreed a budget and that it was for a four-year period.

However, it also described it as "fragmented" and "unimaginative".

It had particular criticism for the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Learning, which it said were "unwilling or unable to show how they will balance the books".

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