Northern Ireland news

Criticism as SIF underspend revealed

Mike Nesbitt claimed Stormont's Executive Office is 'incapable of spending money'. Picture by Hugh Russell

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ONLY half the money allocated to Stormont's Social Investment Fund (SIF) has been spent.

When launched in 2011 by the executive, the fund promised £80 million over four years.

However, it has emerged that only £45.2 million was spent up to February this year.

The Executive Office said its focus was on "not on how much we spend and how quickly we spend but rather on the difference SIF is making in local communities".

However, Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt claimed it was "incapable of spending money".

"The DUP and Sinn Féin will tell you they stand up for the most vulnerable, yet there is an underspend of £35 million in the budget for an initiative to assist the vulnerable," he said.

The fund was at the centre of a political storm in 2016 when it emerged that UDA-linked Charter NI had received £1.7m.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon claimed the SIF process had been "shambolic" from the start.

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