No Assembly but catering still costing thousands every month

The Stormont members dining room and the assembly chamber
The Stormont members dining room and the assembly chamber

Almost £1800,000 has been paid out in subsidies for catering services at Stormont despite the fact that the Assembly is not sitting.

TUV leader Jim Allister asked the Assembly Commission “to detail the monthly level of catering subsidy” in each of the past 12 months. From September 2016 to August this year, the total came to £290,909, with almost £180,000 since the Assembly collapsed in January.

There has been no functioning Assembly since January

There has been no functioning Assembly since January

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Mr Allister said: “It is running at over £1,000 per day for every day the facilities are open.

“The fact that the Assembly isn’t sitting has not altered the arrangement whereby the subsidy meter continues to run.”

He added: “Yet, it seems, the Assembly Commission has taken no steps to address this situation. The public are simply expected to pay up and look cheery. It could only happen in Stormont.”

In its response to Mr Allister’s question, the Assembly Commission explained: “The commission requires that catering services are provided during business hours and for events/functions. Where the cost of providing these services exceeds the monies taken in, the extra cost is incurred by the Assembly.”

The News Letter asked the Assembly to respond to Mr Allister’s comments yesterday evening but had yet to receive a reply at the time of writing.

The costs breakdown is as follows:

• September 2016: £23,879.80

• October 2016: £11,643.53

• November 2016: £26,872.26

• December 2016: £14,861.82

• January 2017: £34,789.41

• February 2017: £30,463.58

• March 2017: £22,044.92

• April 2017: £31,745.86

• May 2017: £22,538.16

• June 2017: £9,037.14

• July 2017: £34,065.70

• August 2017: £28,967.59