Despite no actual government work being carried out beyond extended talks to resume the power sharing government in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) hospitality budget has risen to £94,000 in the last 12 months.
Northern Ireland has been without an executive since January 2017, as several rounds of talks have failed to restore the power sharing government. The ostensible reason for Stormont’s collapse in early 2017 was financial: the ruling Democratic Unionist Party was blamed for the failure of a renewable heating scheme. The disagreements on both political sides then escalated leading to the collapse.
Despite the breakdown 15 months ago leading to no active government, spending on hospitality has thrived.
The amount spent on hospitality in the 2016/2017 financial year was £59,755.
The figure for 2015/16 was £34,841.
In a statement, the NIO told the BBC that the spending increase in the last 12 months was due in part to the talks process, as it supported an “increased and sustained period of talks and engagements aimed at restoring devolved government”.
The department also said that it hosted an increased number of “key” VIP visits and events requiring “significant additional resource”.
The BBC further reported however, that the NOI did not say what specifically the money was spent on.