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Is the Idea that Northern Ireland is Over-Governed a Myth? PowerPoint Presentation
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Is the Idea that Northern Ireland is Over-Governed a Myth? . Derek Birrell School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy University of Ulster. Aims. Examine the widely expressed view that Northern Ireland is over-governed and the public sector is very large

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is the idea that northern ireland is over governed a myth
Is the Idea that Northern Ireland is Over-Governed a Myth?

Derek Birrell

School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy

University of Ulster

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Aims
  • Examine the widely expressed view that Northern Ireland is over-governed and the public sector is very large
  • Note that this presupposes a comparison with other countries or with a perceived standard or benchmark
  • Examine evidence using comparison with Scotland and Wales and principles of public sector modernisation
five aspects examined
Five Aspects Examined
  • Local government
  • Quangos / public bodies
  • Government departments
  • Assembly and MLAs
  • Overall size of public sector
results of comparison
Results of Comparison
  • Very limited functions
  • Quite large populations
  • No community / town tier
  • Very small workforce
  • Reforms will make little change
  • No strong local government or super councils
loss of localism
Loss of Localism
  • Increased public participation
  • Local responsiveness
  • Strengthening local communities
  • Increase local accountability
  • Efficiency gains
quangos and public bodies
Quangos and Public Bodies
  • Large sector in Northern Ireland
  • Policy of reducing quangos
  • Outcome maintains size of overall sector
  • Establishment of centralised or very large quangos
  • Examples of ESA and health and social care bodies
education and skills authority
Education and Skills Authority
  • Too large a population
  • Delivering a very wide range of functions
  • Compatibility with devolved central department
  • Not responsive to local communities and needs
  • Power rests with small number of appointed people
  • Does not provide public and user participation
  • Large unwieldy bureaucracy likely to be inefficient
health and social care boards
Health and Social Care Boards
  • Boards and Trusts are large in population comparative to GB
  • Extensive range of functions covering; primary health, hospitals, adult social care, children’s care
  • Based on quango model of appointed boards
  • Limits public and user participation
  • Not responsive to local needs and communities
  • Resulted in problems with planned commissioner /provider split
  • Resulted in proposals for 17 integrated care partnerships
  • Resulted in hospitals not having own management structure
government departments 1
Government Departments (1)
  • Northern Ireland has 12 separate government departments
  • Based on ministerial department model from Whitehall
  • Problem not really number
  • Reduction to 6/7 will not reduce functions of central administration and savings likely to be limited
  • Question is whether system is compatible with working of devolution and joined up governance
government departments 2
Government Departments (2)
  • Scotland has moved from departments to 31 Directorates
  • Wales has a strongly integrated system if central administration
  • Both do not always match ministers portfolios to administration units
  • Question of political compatibility with 1998 Agreement and power-sharing arrangements
size of assembly
Size of Assembly
  • Scotland has 129, Wales has 60 and Northern Ireland108
  • Justification for extra representation
  • Necessary as part of 1998 arrangements to have wide representation of political views
  • Scotland and Wales do not require as many representatives proportionately because of more major role of and powers of local councillors
  • Note that Assembly could increase workload; other committees, more full inquiries and more scrutiny over quangos
public sector employment
Public Sector Employment

Source ONS [2012]

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Governance is not particularly large compared to Scotland and Wales
  • Local government is small with few powers
  • Major quangos are often too centralised and large
  • Government departments functions must remain and number is not key issue
  • Workforce is not excessively large
  • Danger of reducing governance arrangements of being not appropriate for; devolution; modernisation of public sector; dealing with democratic deficits