Written answers

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Department of Education and Science

Departmental Expenditure

9:00 pm

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal North East, Fine Gael)
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Question 272: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the 2010 education budget. [28687/10]

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The gross expenditure allocation for my Department for 2010, as set out in the Further Revised Estimates for 2010, is just over €9.295 billion. €452 million of this amount is in respect of funding previously funded from the Vote of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. This is to cover expenditure for the period 1 May 2010, when these functions transferred to my Department, to the end of this year. The National Training Fund will contribute a further €422 million, additional to the voted Exchequer allocation.

The gross current allocation for my Department for 2010 is €8.589 billion, which equates to approximately 15% of total current public expenditure. My Department's gross capital allocation for 2010 is €706 million. In addition, €79 million of capital funding was carried over from 2009, bringing the overall total available for capital expenditure in 2010 to €785 million. This represents an increase of over 2% on the outturn for 2009.

This continued significant investment in education and skills, against the very challenging economic backdrop, demonstrates the importance attached by Government to education. Formulation of the Estimates for 2010 required a number of difficult decisions to taken by the Government. However, these decisions were guided at all times by the national interest and the need to ensure we can sustain public services into the future. The Estimates represent an important step on the road to bringing public expenditure into line with available resources.

Within my Department's capital allocation for 2010 some €579m has been allocated to the school building programme, reflecting the Government's desire to continue investing in the productive capacity of the economy, to create construction jobs and to provide schoolchildren and teachers with the best educational environment in which to learn and work. I recently announced an allocation of €122 million for the Summer Works Scheme in 2010 which will see major improvements in 1,490 primary and post primary schools across the country that will benefit from small and medium scale building works this summer.

The capital allocation also provides €127 million for investment in higher education. This will enable my Department to continue the programme of investment in upgrading and modernising undergraduate facilities at institutes of technology, universities and other colleges around the country. A capital sum of €50 million is being allocated to support the integration of information and communications technology in teaching and learning in schools. Of the €8.589 billion allocated for gross current expenditure on the Education Vote in 2010 pay and pension costs account for almost €6.4 billion. The allocation for pay reflects the impact of a saving of over €350 million arising from the cut in public sector pay which came into effect from the start of this year.

In line with the commitments agreed in the Renewed Programme for Government additional current funding has been made available in 2010 to protect frontline services in schools. €12 million is being provided for the employment of 500 additional teachers in first and second level schools over the next 3 years. €14 million has been provided for additional teachers from September 2010 for the 2010/11 school year to meet demographic pressures and to ensure no further increase in the pupil teacher ratio. These allocations will allow for an increase in teacher numbers of approximately 1,130 between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010. €19 million is being provided to maintain school capitation grants at current levels and to take account of increased pupil numbers. This allocation will also enable additional funding to be allocated to schools for school books and to support curricular activities as provided in the Renewed Programme for Government.

The current allocation also provides for expenditure of just over €1.1 billion on special needs across the Education Vote. The Estimates also include provision of almost €795 million for measures to tackle educational disadvantage across the sector. These measures will be directed at those most in need and include a range of services, aimed at: early literacy; improving school attendance and tackling early school leaving; improving access to third-level; and second chance education for young people and adults. The provision for school transport of €186 million includes provision for new services.

The provision for 2010 for Universities and Institutes of Technology is €1,194 million which is a 9% reduction on 2009. The public service pay reduction accounts for almost 6% of this reduction. The reduction takes account of targeted reductions in staff numbers employed under an employment control framework for the sector and will also involve further non-pay cost efficiencies. The overall allocation for funding for student support has increased from €306 million in 2009 to €324 million in 2010 to take account of increased numbers of students. A reduction of 5% was applied to the rates of student grants and scholarships in 2010, in line with reductions in other income maintenance payments announced in the Budget.

A number of savings were identified in relation to the functions which were transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to my Department, mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Protection payments, and certain FÁS allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. These savings allow an increase in training and employment places to over 160,000 in 2010. For example, they provide for an increase of 500 in Community Employment places, bringing the total places available to 23,300.

The 2010 Budget includes an allocation of €14 million as matching funding for European Globalisation Fund (EGF) initiatives and measures to be directed at enhanced training and employment initiatives for young unemployed, redundant apprentices and former employees of the construction and manufacturing sectors. Approval from the European Commission has been received for €22.8 million funding under the EGF application to support redundant workers at the Dell computer manufacturing plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick. Applications in respect of redundancies at Waterford Crystal and SR Technics are currently under consideration at European level.

A sum of €20 million is allocated to the new Labour Market Activation Fund. The Fund is intended to support the provision of training and education programmes for the unemployed - prioritising the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors such as construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed. A Call for Proposals was issued in March 2010 for training and education programmes to be funded from the Activation Fund, which I recently announced.

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