SDLP Jobs and Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has welcomed the release of the Independent Review’s report into Invest NI, which found that “profound change” is required.
The review found change was needed in the shape, priorities and behaviours of Invest NI and that substantive issues must be addressed if it is to deliver for the economy of Northern Ireland.
It follows sustained lobbying from Ms McLaughlin on the failings of the organisation to deliver for the North as a whole. She has repeatedly raised the failure to properly support regional economic balance, as well as wider systemic failures within the organisation.
Following her attendance at the launch of the review, the Foyle MLA said:
“This report is unequivocal in its damning assessment that profound change is needed at Invest NI and makes a number of stark recommendations given the scale of its failings. I have been consistently raising the issues surrounding Invest NI since becoming an MLA and was pleased to help secure this external review into its performance and to submit a response to it earlier this year.
“I welcome the long-overdue findings that Invest NI is in need of substantial transformation. Despite spending hundreds of millions of pounds, it is clear that there has been an abject failure at the heart of Invest NI to deliver, especially on a sub-regional basis and the areas in the North that are most in need have not received anywhere near the requisite level of support.
“It is welcome that the review has identified that the regional offices of Invest NI have been underutilised with staff and decision making largely centralised in Belfast. In Derry we have seen the consequences of this, with our region consistently failed by this organisation and by the department’s failure to properly oversee Invest NI. While I welcome the recommendation that the resources to these offices should be reviewed, this change must be significant and must be accompanied by concrete steps to give the people of the North-West confidence that these failures will be reversed and that sub-regional delivery will be a priority for Invest NI.
“While the review has found that Invest NI is the appropriate economic development agency for Northern Ireland, it is only with significant and comprehensive change that the organisation can recover. The department also has serious questions to answer from this review, both in its oversight of Invest NI which has been proven to have totally failed, as well as on the broader economic vision of the department as the review raises fundamental concerns about the 10X Vision, finding that it lacks policy, delivery and implementation plans.
“I understand that the department will now work with Invest NI to develop an action plan to address the review recommendations and recognises that immediate decisive action is needed. I will be writing to the Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy to request a meeting to discuss the findings of this review and the next steps that we believe are needed.”