Ulster Unionist Party education spokesperson, Rosemary Barton MLA, has spoken out about the lack of clarity surrounding the financial package negotiated in Westminster after the General Election, in the context of ongoing cuts to the current education budget.
Rosemary Barton MLA said:
“It is little wonder that the general public are so outraged with continual headlines about cuts to school budgets and a financial crisis in education. Only a few weeks ago, we were told that the DUP had achieved a financial package worth £1Bn for Northern Ireland which included £50million over two years to target pressures in the education system.
“However, these ‘pressures’ do not seem to have been targeted as yet, and there is confusion about whether or not the extra cash is dependent on the return of a Stormont Executive. All summer we have had stories of cuts to special education transport services, cuts to the schools’ budget and a threat to school uniform grants.
“The core of this ridiculous situation goes back to last autumn when the then Finance Minister made excuse after excuse about delaying bringing forward a budget for 2017/18. That delaying tactic has led directly to the budgetary uncertainty and a short term cuts agenda which everyone associated with education is suffering from now.“It is a shame and disgrace that Sinn Fein are being allowed to hold up the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland for narrow party political interests. However, equally those who negotiated the financial package at Westminster- at great cost to the reputation of Northern Ireland- need to clarify where the money is, and when will it be used to plug the financial holes appearing in the education budget.”