CSR briefing with DETI
The Permanent Secretary opened by outlining the present situation the Department was operating in.
Several long term structural problems were identified; the level of economic inactivity, the percentage prosperity difference when compared with other comparable regions and an over reliance on public expenditure.
The current working assumptions within government circles is that there will be a flat lining of current expenditure which equates in real terms (due to inflation) as a reduction. This was further broken down as an expenditure reduction of 4.9%, 4.0%, 4.4% and 4.4% across the 2010 budgetary period (2011 – 2015). This equates to a total reduction of £92 million.
Mr Trevor Cooper, the Director of Finance in DETI expanded upon this by illustrating some of the Department's priorities and responsibilities.
It was also noted that while the public sector in Northern Ireland is larger in terms of expenditure then in other regions of the UK the percentage of the population employed was comparably similar.
The demographics of society in Northern Ireland were also studied with the observation that a rapidly ageing population will lead to an increased demand on public services. Current projections will mean that by 2030 less then 19% of the population will be under 16 as compared to over 24% of the population being of pensionable age.
The meeting heard concerns that for the real benefit of job creation to be seen that these jobs must be sustainable and of high added value. The theme of job creation was carried through out the meeting with the observation being made that low paid jobs contribute to the prosperity gap. Efficiencies in procurement, asset transfer and supporting the small and medium enterprise were also discussed as was growing the research and development capacity within Northern Ireland.