Little chance of clawing back RHI £400m, says Allister

Jim Allister said it was unlikely there was a get-out clause in the RHI contracts
Jim Allister said it was unlikely there was a get-out clause in the RHI contracts

There is little chance that Stormont will be able to claw back the £400m of taxpayers’ money which was squandered in the RHI fiasco, TUV leader Jim Allister has said.

Mr Allister, a barrister, told the News Letter: “I suspect it is unlikely there is much of a chance of a get-out clause in all this, unless it stipulates in the contracts that claimants can only burn enough heat to meets their needs.

“But I suspect that clause is not in the contracts, given the mindset of the people behind the scheme, who believed that people would not abuse the scheme.”

Mr Allister said it was in the public interest that all beneficiaries of the scheme are now identified.

Laying the blame for the debacle at the feet of Arlene Foster, who was in charge of DETI when the scheme was rolled out, the North Antrim MLA added: “There was a triple failure on Arlene Foster’s part.

“First, her approval of the scheme and its departure from the model used in Great Britain, which had built-in cost controls.

“Secondly, the scheme was supposed to receive reapproval from the Department of Finance and Personnel in April 2015.

“But this wasn’t done and a vital opportunity to correct this squander was missed.

“The minister for the economy has put this down to administrative oversight.

“If this review and reapproval process had occurred the public could have been saved tens of millions, because this was before the massive spike in applications.

“It simply isn’t good enough to sweep the matter under the carpet by pathetically saying ‘there were insufficient administrative arrangements in place’.

“Why were they not in place? Because the minister failed to put them in place. Once more asleep at the wheel.

“Lastly, the swatting away of the whistleblower’s claims back in 2013 was another fatal error in this whole saga.

“Arlene Foster is culpable in all of this. It is clear the first minister is desperate to spread the blame, but as DETI minister the buck stops with her.”