The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure has issued its Draft Budget for 2011-15 outlining spending and savings proposals for its Departmental and Arm’s Length Bodies. Look in the Quick Links on their home page.
Consultation on this document runs in tandem with the public consultation on the Executive’s Draft Budget and closes on 9 February 2011.
The headline figures for current expenditure are as follows:
|Net Current Expenditure||113.3||112.5||113.2||110.0||103.0|
DCAL comments that the baseline in Current Expenditure falls by 9% by 2014/15 and in real terms, ie taking account of anticipated levels of inflation, by almost 13%; it goes on to acknowledge that this “will present real challenges for the department and its Arms Length Bodies”. Further breakdowns of proposed expenditure for the various bodies are provided later in DCAL’s document.
Figures are also provided on the capital allocation together with the comment that “Investment will be made to complete the important library projects in the Belfast area already underway. It is also planned to invest in the necessary replacement of the libraries operating system, in essential maintenance and in four new mobile libraries.”
The fact that these commitments are still there is very welcome news but the current expenditure projections will certainly present particular difficulties for what is by far the largest library body, Libraries NI, which came into being less than two years ago and has already implemented significant savings in its establishment. The proposals for the Public Record Office, opening its new premises in March, and the Museums, which will wish to build on the success of the Ulster Museum, reopened in 2009 after major building work and winner of the prestigious Art Fund prize in 2010, are no more encouraging.
But it probably makes sense to look at all of this in the context of the overall budget proposals for Northern Ireland before coming to any further conclusions. In any case LISC would encourage people to examine and reflect on the documents and take part in the consultation process.