In reply to an Assembly Question from the TUV leader, Jim Allister, it has been revealed that on average OFMDFM is spending £33,000 per month on travel.
The total spend for 2015/16 was £396,406. When the travelling expenses of the Executive offices in Brussels, Washington and China are excluded the total still tops £300,000. Another Question by Mr Allister also reveals that in the past year OFMDFM has spent £12,000 a month on hospitality. Put together almost £50,000 per month of taxpayers’ money is going on travel and hospitality for OFMDFM. (See here.)
Commenting Jim Allister said, “Of course some level of expenditure is necessary, especially in running the foreign offices, but an overall level of over £540,000 per annum for one department does seem extravagant. Maybe the travelling entourage of SpAds and civil servants is too great when the First Ministers travel abroad. Junkets at public expense are not acceptable. In this modern age of instant communication would much be lost if the Special Advisers assisted from Belfast?
“These figures only relate to the Executive Office of the First Ministers. They do not include the other departments with high spending on travel, like the Economy department, nor Invest NI.
“I believe the Executive Office needs to further cull unnecessary expenditure and waste.”