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Where does the money go?

May 14, 2013

It would flatter me to say that I had a layman’s grasp of economics, so what follows is a genuine inquiry. Where does the money go?

Let me elaborate.

The MTV Europe Music Awards, hosted by Belfast in 2011, are reported to have generated approximately £22m for the region – £25 for every £1 of public money spent on the event. Meanwhile, the filming of Home Box Office’s (HBO) Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland is estimated to have pumped £65m into the local economy, a substantial return on the £6.05m Northern Ireland Screen Fund (supported by Invest NI) paid in grants to HBO to help with the costs of the first two series.

Yesterday we learnt that the G8 summit is estimated to bring £40m into the region’s economy.

Add all that up and you have a total of £130m. Where does it go? Does a large chunk of it end up in the pockets of corporations like the Hastings Hotel Group, which according to its 2012 accounts has more than tripled its profits?

Hastings controls six hotels in Northern Ireland, including the Europa and Culloden. How much of its profits went on local wages? How much of that does Hastings spend on local produce? Is there anyway of knowing?

According to the BBC, Hasting’s shareholders received a dividend in 2012 of £368,000 up from £276,000 in 2011. Are we giving grants to big corporations so that the shareholders of large companies can enjoy a pay day?

I wonder how much of the money actually finds its way to working class areas were work is scarce, wages are low and welfare is being cut?

Given that we know that wealth does not trickle down – a notion categorically discredited by the fact that inequality has grown in recent decades – what is the mechanism by which the dividend being enjoyed by some in Northern Ireland can be distributed to the many, and in particular those in most need? That is a pressing question in Northern Ireland given its recent history of bloody sectarian violence and the potential for conflict to be exacerbated by depravation. As Matt Baggott, Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable, argues in an interview published in today’s Independent: “We need a lot more focused work in those difficult disadvantaged neighbourhoods where paramilitarism has its roots, to try and improve the life particularly of young people, and deal with the angst felt by working class Protestants and republicans. That has yet to happen.”

So where does the money go and how do we find out?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John O'Farrell permalink
    May 15, 2013 12:50 pm

    We are on the same page, yet again.

    “Is it worth asking exactly how Northern Ireland is going to benefit from the G8? Apart from the shamelessness of using the presence of the global great’n’good to request that Northern Ireland become an onshore tax haven itself, the policing costs will be astronomical.

    Fermanagh, and much else, will be closed down by security heavies and the only added value will be to bridal suites in lakeside hotels. There will be a photo op on a golf course. Putin may bare his chest. Angela Merkel could scowl a lot. Cameron will look chummy and hope for a nice pic with Obama. No-one will recognise the token Italian. It will rain.

    The only socially useful thing about the G8 is its educational opportunities. We will have a clear and present reason to think about money and power on a bigger canvas than our wee provincialism. For a weekend, in faraway Belfast, there will be a series of public events and lectures organised through the IF campaign. Aid, land, transparency and tax will be the focus of discussion and debate at venues across Northern Ireland. Join in..”

    Details here: more to follow.

    • Rab permalink*
      May 15, 2013 9:39 pm

      Many thanks for this, John. The article in AgendaNI is interesting and helpful. Although I see that BBCNI seem determined to keep the coverage as provincial as possible. More in that later, maybe.

      And I’m glad to see there are plans to ‘greet’ the G8. Actually, wish the G8 would meet here more often. It’s visit seems to inspire some great entertainment…

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