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The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has today launched the first ever comprehensive study of the net financial position of devolved public sector services in Northern Ireland.
CIPFA’s Northern Ireland Balance Sheet, compiled using the financial statements of devolved public sector bodies, estimates that the country currently owns £51.8bn of assets and owes £51.3bn in liabilities.
Through the analysis of recent, available audited financial information for individual public bodies, including central government, local councils and health trusts, CIPFA has produced a snapshot of what assets are owned and what liabilities are owed, which it hopes will help policymakers develop a more robust and sustainable financial strategy.
The public sector in Northern Ireland is not required to publicly report its overall financial position. However, with the current level of scrutiny over the country’s spending and set against continued efforts across the UK to reduce the deficit, CIPFA hopes its Balance Sheet for Northern Ireland will encourage greater transparency and accountability during fiscal devolution.
Among the public assets, which are used for service delivery rather than resale or the creation of profits, network assets, primarily roads, accounts for £28.6bn.
Meanwhile, by far the most significant portion of the liabilities, an estimated £43.6bn, relates to public service pensions. And while the Northern Ireland Assembly has passed the Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, which paves the way for pension changes in terms of costs to the sector, management of pensions liability will continue to have an impact on available resources in the future.
Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA said: “We’re delighted to publish the first ever Balance Sheet for Northern Ireland.
“A balance sheet is hugely valuable to any enterprise in providing a picture of what is owned and what is owed. Within Government it is a crucial tool for managing public services and for achieving fiscal sustainability.
“We hope that the release of our Balance Sheet for Northern Ireland will help stimulate debate among politicians, policymakers, and public service professionals and encourage them to budget more effectively for the medium term as well as improve the transparency in financial reporting.”
For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office on 020 7543 5830/ 5787 / 5675 or email E: David.Stone@cipfa.org.
T: +44 (0)20 7543 5703
T: +44 (0)20 7543 5830