Northern Eire taxpayers footed the invoice for round £550,000 final monetary yr sustaining dozens of empty authorities buildings.
ne MLA mentioned, given the state of public funds, any vacant authorities constructing must be bought if it serves no objective.
Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph by means of a collection of Freedom of Data requests additionally confirmed that electrical energy payments for these buildings have risen dramatically in recent times.
The Government Workplace, for instance, maintains the regional authorities headquarters constructing in Ballymena, the place the electrical energy invoice rose from £2,120 within the 2017/18 monetary yr to £10,538 in 2021/22.
Opened in 1990, the regional authorities headquarters have been constructed as a community of websites throughout the UK for use within the occasion of a nuclear warfare.
Equally, the Division for Communities is chargeable for 36 buildings that have been a part of the previous Regional Growth Directorate.
Utility payments for these vacant buildings totaled £2,763 within the 2017/18 monetary yr. By 2021/22 it was £10,948.
Whereas a number of the department-owned buildings are within the means of being disposed of, many stay vacant with no clear future plans. Some haven’t been in use for over a decade.
Of Stormont’s 9 departments, the Division of Well being mentioned it was chargeable for six vacant buildings, considered one of which, Iona Home, has been vacant since 2011.
Nonetheless, it mentioned it “doesn’t have data on the annual value of charges, utilities or safety for these properties”.
The Division of Schooling and the Division of the Economic system mentioned it doesn’t preserve any vacant properties, whereas six different departments offered data.
In addition to the regional authorities headquarters, the Government Workplace can also be chargeable for a vacant constructing on the Abrington web site in Londonderry.
Within the final monetary yr £10,708 was paid in the direction of the upkeep of those buildings.
The entire buildings at Abrington Website Bar have a lease, lease settlement, or most popular bidder.
DAERA paid £13,644 in charges and utilities on 13 vacant properties in 2021/22.
The Division for Infrastructure (DfI) maintains dozens of vacant properties, together with the previous St Lucia Barracks and components of the previous Crumlin Street Gaol. Within the final monetary yr, £384,287 was spent on charges, utilities and safety at these websites.
The DfI mentioned: “Nearly all of vacant properties held by the Division for Infrastructure have been acquired to be used in future street schemes (eg waste, blight utility, favorable alternative); nonetheless, a few of these at the moment are used for street schemes. should not required for and are at present within the means of disposal.
“The DfI took possession of Crumlin Street Gaol and a part of the St Lucia web site on 8 Might 2016. Each websites have been owned by the Government Workplace (previously OFMDFM) earlier than that date.
“The Division is chargeable for the preservation, restoration, upkeep and ‘bringing again into practical use’ (referring to the Authorities’s historic property upkeep protocol) of the Grade A-listed jail and its surrounding buildings and Additionally B. Listed constructing 21 at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh.
The Treasury maintains eight vacant buildings, which value £70,939 within the final monetary yr.
The Division for Communities can also be chargeable for dozens of empty properties, a few of which now we have not owned for as much as 14 years. It spent £68,345 on their care final monetary yr.
The Division of Justice has just one vacant constructing, the NI Conflict Rooms in Belfast.
Whereas no cash has been spent on charges or safety since vacating in 2019, £863 was spent on electrical energy and water within the final monetary yr.
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, a former chair of Stormont’s audit committee, mentioned: “Given the strain on the general public funds, we have to be sure that cash just isn’t being spent unnecessarily. , particularly on vacant buildings the place we do not get any tangible returns.
“I’ll encourage an audit of all buildings at present owned by our govt departments to find out whether or not they’re being utilized in a useful method and to determine buildings which have any present The aim is to not determine a motive to retain them.They are often bought to cease this drain on our funds.
“It’s unacceptable that at a time when so many households are struggling to pay their payments that we’re spending a lot cash to run empty buildings.”