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DUP North Antrim MLA and former Finance Minister Mervyn Storey has reiterated his Party’s support for a fundamental appraisal of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Responding to the publication of a report published by the Auditor General which suggests that NICS has almost 1,500 unfilled vacancies and the highest sickness absence rate of anywhere in the United Kingdom, Mr Storey said:

‘‘The Northern Ireland Civil Service is in serious need of revolution in order to improve delivery of vital public services.

This report sets out in stark terms the scale of the task. It follows the recent public inquiry which presented a challenge to everyone with a stake in devolution and our institutions but cast a particular shadow over capacity and skills within the Civil Service.

We are about to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland but we need to build a civil service for the next century which embraces technology, modernisation and innovation.

The DUP believes there should be a fundamental root and branch reform of NICS. This should include examining the benefits of closer collaboration with the Home Civil Service, whilst learning from experience in other jurisdictions. The allegiance of civil servants should be to the Executive rather than a single Department in order to promote a more joined-up approach.

The Minister of Finance must urgently provide the leadership required to drive forward this agenda. As a starting point there must be a rapid review of recruitment in NICS not just in order to get soaring agency staff costs under control but to ensure the health and wellbeing needs of the current workforce are finally prioritised and addressed.’’