The implications of the backdated pay ruling are alarming

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The easy thing to do after Wednesday’s legal ruling on backdated pay for PSNI officers and civilian staff is to welcome it.

Plenty of politicians did just that, after the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision in favour of 3,700 PSNI officers and civilian staff on deductions from their holiday pay entitlements, going back 20 years.

But the problem is the vast cost. Meeting this cost for the PSNI alone is estimated at £40 million.

However, a much larger sum is at stake, perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds, if tens of thousands of public sector workers across the Province are also entitled to such backdated pay claims.

There will now be very careful scrutiny of why a law in Great Britain preventing backdated pay claims older than two years was not extended to Northern Ireland.

This is a deeply alarming state of affairs.

We already have rudderless health and education and other services, due to Sinn Fein having collapsed the assembly (and having been allowed by London to prevent its return until its political demands are met).

We have huge demographic pressures on our health service and on our elderly care provision. There are multiple infrastructure projects that need funding.

Stormont has handed out freebies such as free prescriptions and a lower age of entitlement to free transport. It has ruled out water charges.

We have the highest levels in the UK of some aspects of welfare dependency, including almost one person in eight being on Disability Living Allowance prior to reform.

Other aspects of high expenditure in Northern Ireland have yet to be reformed, including higher court damages than GB, which in turn pushes up our car insurance premiums.

We cannot continue to act as if money grows on trees. The full cost of this ruling must be established as soon as possible.